Luxor, Egypt - Stein Travel



    • 16+ years

    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

    • 0-23 months


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Welcome to Luxor

Part of the ancient city of Thebes that was the ruling seat of power for 1,350 years, Luxor is a major holiday destination, particularly for those interested in ancient Egypt, and the area boasts an exceptionally rich legacy of temples, tombs and monuments. Around these relics of ancient Egypt's celebrated history are signs of the prosperous industry of the modern day - tourism.

Luxor town is crowded with souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants, while the Nile River carries feluccas and luxury hotel ships. The streets are filled with the cries of shop owners, horse-drawn carriages (caleches), taxi drivers and tour guides, all offering their services to the newly arrived holiday people, whether wealthy tourist or economizing backpacker. The action on the Luxor streets is almost as captivating as the temples the tourists have come to see.

Whereas the impressive structures of the Temples of Luxor and of Karnak are within the town itself, the biggest attractions lie on the west bank across the Nile, where the funerary complexes of the Tombs of the Nobles, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens relate the fascinating story of the ultimate resting places of ancient royalty.


Language
Arabic is the official language although English and French are widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas.
Money

The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Visitors are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds to avoid additional exchange rate charges. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main tourist areas.

The main place of worship in Theban times and built over a period of 1,300 years, the massive Temple of Karnak in Luxor is an incredibly impressive structure. One of the world's great architectural achievements, the Hypostyle Hall, is filled with immense stone pillars still bearing the engraved and painted inscriptions from the 12th Dynasty, and covers an area of 64,583 square feet (6,000 sq metres). The complex also contains the Avenue of the Sphinxes, the Sacred Lake, and many huge statues, halls, ornate wall murals, obelisks and colonnades.

The West Bank is an area of limestone hills and valleys riddled with tombs and temples across the river from Luxor. Goats roam freely among the ruins, and the tiny settlements on the slopes provide a splash of colour in an otherwise desert-like barrenness. The 59 foot (18m) high pair of enthroned statues of the Colossi of Memnon are the first things most visitors will see on the West Bank, the only remaining part of the mortuary temple of Amenophis III.

Most travellers come to visit the Valley of the Kings where the secretive tombs of the Pharaohs were built to immortalise their mummies and treasures for eternity. In an attempt to thwart tomb robbers, traps and deceptions were part of the architectural planning. Dramatic descents, spectacular murals on the passage and chamber walls and a replica of the original sarcophagus at the end of the tunnel create an awe-inspiring atmosphere. Highlights include the Tomb of Tutankhamun and Ramses II. The country's finest tomb, however, lies in the Valley of the Queens, the Tomb of Nefertari, which has exceptional painted murals, but is at present closed to the public. Also worth a visit is Hatshepsut's Temple, mortuary temple of Egypt's only female Pharaoh.


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