Luxor, or ancient Thebes, served as the capital of Egypt for a very long period of the ancient Egyptian history and it really flourished during the ruling period of the New Kingdom. This is why the city of Luxor today hosts almost one quarter of the monuments of the whole world. Included in all classical tours to Egypt, Luxor is one of the most popular destinations among tourists spending their vacation in Egypt.
Divided, historically, into the city of the living; situated in the East Bank of the Nile, and the city of the dead, located in the West Bank of the Nile, Luxor is featured for having the most marvelous Pharaonic temples and necropolises in Egypt like the Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings. This is why many tourists who travel to Egypt every years love to include Luxor in their travel package to Egypt.
Geographical Location of Luxor
The city of Luxor is located between latitudes 25-36 to the North and 32-33 to the East. Luxor is located around 700 kilometers to the North of Cairo, the Egyptian capital, 300 kilometers to the South West of Hurghada, 60 kilometers to the South of Qena, and 220 kilometers to the North of the wonderful city of Aswan.
The city of Edfu and then Aswan occupies the Southern borders of the city, to the North there is the governorate of Qena, to the East there is the governorate of the Red Sea, and to the West there is the Western Desert of Egypt and El Wadi El Gedid Governorate.
There are many ways a traveler who spend his vacation in Egypt can reach Luxor. The first is that there are direct flights from different cities around Egypt like Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Alexandria, and Aswan to Luxor.
There is also the sleeper train that starts its journey from Cairo in the evening and reaches Luxor in the early morning of the next day. Many tourists who travel to Egypt choose the sleeper train, as it is a cheap but yet quite comfortable mean to reach Luxor.
The History and establishment of Luxor
Historical records show that inhabitants have resided at the location of the city of Thebes as early as the Stone Age. Examples of these civilizations are Naqada, situated to the North of Luxor today. There are some pottery dishes and some stone crafts that date back to the Stone Age and were found in Naqada are being displayed in the Luxor Museum.
Egypt has witnessed a great civilization with the invention of writing in the 30th century BC and the beginning of the pyramid-building period shortly afterwards. This period is considered one of the most prosperous eras in the history of mankind. However, this civilization extended on a limited surface area to the South of Cairo today and it never reached as far as Thebes.
Luxor at that time was the forth province of Egypt and it had three central villages which were situated on the West Bank of the River Nile. During the reign of 4th dynasty, two other villages were established on the East Bank.
Luxor, or ancient Thebes as it was called in the reign of the Pharaohs was established in the ruling period of the forth dynasty approximately near the middle of the 25th century BC. At this point in history, there was nothing in Thebes except some small huts. Nevertheless the city was used as a necropolis of the local governors of regions in Egypt.
At the end of the ruling period of the Old Kingdom, the central authority in Memphis, the first capital of Egypt, started being weaker. This led Egypt to the first intermediate period when each local governor took control of a region and declared himself independent from the central authority in Memphis.
Afterwards in the reign of the 11th dynasty, Thebes became the capital of Egypt during the ruling period of Amenhotep I roughly at the end of the 20th century BC. This king is credited for reuniting Egypt once more after a period of chaos in the first Intermediate Period. Thebes remained as the capital of Egypt for more than 1700 years until the end of the rule of the Pharaohs in Egypt in 332 when the Persians took control of the country.
However, in fact, the most glorious periods of the history of Thebes was in the reign of the New Kingdom when the city became the center of the worship of the god Amun. This was when great establishments like the Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings, and many other monuments were erected.
The Names of Luxor
The city had many names since its establishment more than 4000 years ago. It was called Thebes of course. This is besides many other metaphoric names like the city of the thousand doors, the city of the sun, the city of the light.
It was the Arabs who called it Luxor. This was in the 7th century AD, when the Arabs took control of Egypt. When they visited the city, they were amazed because of the large number of impressive temples and palaces situated in the city. Therefore, they called it the city of the many palaces, or Luxor in the Arabic language.
Luxor is featured with its hot weather in the summer, with the temperature reaching 40 degrees in some of the hottest days. Therefore, it is best for tourists who want to spend their vacation in Egypt to visit the city between September and March when the sun is warm in the morning and the weather is wonderful at night.
Luxor Travel Tips
With a surface area of more than 30,000 square kilometers and a population that exceeds more than 600,000 inhabitants, Luxor is now a main attraction for travelers who spend their holidays in Egypt.
One would see many touristic buses stopping in many monuments in the city and guests who travel to Egypt are enjoying themselves admiring the ancient Egyptian civilization. You would also view many travelers walking along the River Nile, shopping in the many shops and bazaars spread around the city.
Lately, tourists have started enjoying Luxor in another way. They go on Nile Cruise ships for 3 or 4 days in a journey from Luxor to Aswan or vise versa where they visit the wonderful monuments of Luxor and enjoy the luxury of the Nile cruise ships.