Luxor had none of the hustle and bustle and pure busyness of Cairo which we had left in the early hours of the morning. Driving through the town I felt this was a place that I could return and spend more time. As it was we had a couple of days here to visit the Temples of Karnak, Luxor and Queen Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings.
On our drive from the airport we saw the uncovering of the ram headed sphinxes that connected Karnak and Luxor Temples.
We again saw these when we visited Karnak in the ancient city of Thebes, once the largest city in the world.
The building of Karnak temple spanned over 2000 years celebrating the local Gods Amun, Mut, Khonsu and the pharohs themselves. During his reign, Amenhotep 111 (1388 – 1350 BC) poured much of his wealth into the mortuary temple of Karnak, the Avenue of Sphinxes and Luxor Temple. Rameses 11 (1279 – 1213 BC) carried out extensive building projects. With many pharohs before and after adding their bit.
We were lucky to have an Egyptologist as a guide and he explained the meanings of the heiroglyphics, cartouches and stories that were so well preserved on the walls and columns of the temple and the chapels. In fact he gave us too much information as a brain can take in only so much and then it hasn’t a hope of remembering. He pointed out the world’s first cartoon and showed very early graffiti. It gave me a different idea of grafitti as this was early – done before christ but perhaps a thousand years after the piece had been set. Doesn’t that give us a social history that perhaps tells its own story?
Karnak is the largest religious building ever made and covers about 200 acres. The Hypostyle Hall is the largest room of any religious building in the world and has 134 columns. As well as the main chamber there are several smaller temples and a temple lake.
The place was crowded but I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful it would have been to have seen this when I was at school.
At times it felt as though you had stepped back in time.
The Temple lake. Behind where I took this photo was a giant scarab (dung beetle) dedicated to the sun god. Our guide told us that if you walked anticlockwise around this beetle at least 9 times you would gain great luck. I don’t know if this is true or not but we did it. Personally I think that all the guides had a good laugh as they watched us .
Outside the main temple complex there was evidence of continued work unearthing yet more treasures. I believe that no matter where you dug in Egypt you would find something of significance. I wondered how long that mud brick wall had been there.
We left Karnak walking through the avenue of sphynxes and were taken to our boat that was to be our home for the next week.
Roger was not feeling at all well. Someone had come on the trip sick and had passed it on to everyone by this stage apart from me so I headed off to Luxor Temple by myself. It seemed that each temple we visited was better than the last and by now we were over-awed.
Like Karnak, Luxor Temple was situated on the East bank of the Nile. Built 1400 BC it is the only temple that is not just significant as an archaelogical and tourist site as it still has religious activity happening within the temple grounds. The Abbu Haggag mosque is found in the temple grounds.
Alexander the Great claims to have been crowned here along with many other Egyptian pharaohs. Seeing the temple at night was atmospheric and beautiful.
Having had a 4am start to catch our plane I was now feeling more than a little tired and I was glad I had opted to not go on the hot air balloon trip over the Valley of the Kings. Those going would have another predawn start. I looked forward to a sleep in before exploring the Valley of the Kings.