The ancient Egyptians called it simply “Niut”, “the City”. Homer named it the “City of a Hundred Gates”. Vivant Denon, who accompanied Napoleon’s troops, noted, “This city remained such a vast apparition for our imaginations to grasp, that on catching sight of the scattered ruins the Napoleonic army stopped unprompted and broke into spontaneous applause.”
Luxor, City of the Living
When Memphis was at its apogee, Thebes was no more than a small village. Mentuhotep (Middle Kingdom, 2060-2010 BC), King of Thebes who unified Upper and Lower Egypt, made Thebes the capital of the Empire. Thebes thus superseded the southern city of Memphis, then wracked by internal disputes. The new capital reached its high point under the New Kingdom and acquired imposing buildings. From the reign of Thutmose III (1484-1450 BC), Thebes extended its authority as far as the banks of the Euphrates to the north, to the border with Libya in the east and as far as Sudan in the south.
The right bank, site of modern-day Luxor, was the City of the Living dedicated to Amen, an obscure local divinity raised to the level of principal deity in place of Re. The priests of Amen eventually became so powerful that nothing escaped their political control. Amenhotep IV (1372-1354 BC) experienced this to his cost when he decided to abandon Amen and the pantheon of gods for the monotheistic cult of Aten; when the pharaoh died, Tell el-Amarna, the city dedicated to the new cult, was destroyed by the servants of Amen who at the same time set about restoring divine power as they saw it.
Aside from conquering and warring with enemy peoples such as the Hittites and Libyans, successive pharaohs – seen as divine incarnations and revered as such – were preoccupied with ensuring their own greatness and legacy. They were keen, therefore, to extend and embellish the two temples erected to the glory of Amen – the complex at Karnak and the more modest temple at Luxor – whilst endeavouring, sometimes aggressively, to erase the memory of preceding pharaohs’ prestige.
Luxor, tourist capital of Egypt
The decline and subsequent disappearance of the pharaonic civilisation dealt a serious blow to Luxor. Previously cared-for and revered monuments, which had been the exclusive domain of the highest dignitaries and priests serving omnipotent gods, now provided shelter for crude brick houses belonging to anyone who came along. Only the high, thick temple walls were able to afford effective protection against the bandits of the time.
In the earliest centuries of the Christian era, followers of the new faith built their churches within the confines of what had been sacred spaces for Egyptians at the time of the pharaohs. In temples such as those at Luxor and Karnak engraved crosses are still visible. Luxor was of no interest to the Arab armies arriving to spread the faith of Islam. Muslim leaders founded the city of Cairo and the splendour of Islamic civilisation developed hundreds of kilometres to the north of the former capital.
When Europeans rediscovered the pharaonic civilisation, as Napoleon did on a military expedition at the end of the eighteenth century bringing back the first ornaments in his luggage, Luxor was a city asleep. Drawings and watercolours of the period illustrate this. The temples are depicted filled with sand and flocks of domestic animals wander among columns buried up to their capitols in the ground. Europe was, however, being gripped at the time by Egyptomania and Orientalism. "La Description de l’Egypte" (A description of Egypt) compiled by scholars accompanying Napoleon’s armies, was written as a result. Exhibitions of antique objects, jewellery and mummies were common. From the second half of the nineteenth century, Luxor became a destination for tourists, but only for a sufficiently wealthy handful.
Luxor possesses undeniable charm. Here and there among the palace halls and gardens and on facades of nineteenth-century buildings with corbelled balconies there is a glimpse of the past and of a time of British colonials and Egyptian monarchs, of wealthy English, and of beys and pashas. As the sun sets, the Temple of Luxor, close to the large tourist souk, seems to stand apart from the world of the living. Its columns, colossal statues and bays recover their serenity, oblivious to the carriages passing by. On the other side of the Nile, the village of Gurna slumbers peacefully with its back to the mountain under stars shining more brightly than ever.
There is still much about Luxor to surprise one and recently the spectacular discovery of fifteen statues on the site of the Colossi of Memnon, one of which a huge statue (3.62 m high) of the wife of Amenophis III, the queen Tiye are proof of this.This is not to mention Toutankhamon’s mummy from the Valley of the Kings, the only Egyptian mummy conserved in situ, which has been placed in a Plexiglas display cabinet, offering the general public an opportunity to see the Pharaoh child’s face.
Gurna, peasant village and City of Eternity
The dead of Thebes were buried on this side of the Nile and this is where visitors get an idea of what eternity really means. Eternity is written on the walls of magnificent royal tombs on the mountainside isolated from the world of the living, in the sober simplicity of the courtesans’ tombs carved into the rock face and in the funerary temples of kings at the head of the valley. The faces and rituals of the villagers in Gurna have a timeless quality too. Colourful houses decorated with wall paintings are built on the tombs of noblemen. Once also notorious tomb raiders, the people of Gurna are farmers and artisans as generations of their forefathers were before them. At the feet of the gigantic statues standing guard over the burial site known as the Colossi of Memnon, fellahs continue to till the rich Nile Valley soil as they have always done.
Luxor Travel Information
Luxor is a city located in Upper Egypt, in the province of Qena. Today has a status of governorate. Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes - the capital of Ancient Egypt and the great city of Amon Ra.
In the mildest of the tenth century AD, early Arab travelers, who admired Luxor for the numerous monuments and ruins scattered around the city, gave it its name( AL- OCSOUR ), in Arabic Luxor means "the site of the palaces".
Today the city is among the most famous and most popular tourist destinations in Egypt, one of those places that you MUST see. Therefore, all the major travel agencies have main regional travel offices in there that act as destination service offices for their tour groups. The city of Luxor has population of around 230 thousand
Weather in Luxor:
The weather in Luxor is fairly hot all year round. Temperature can reach up to 40-50 C (90-105 F) during the summer time
Listed below is a table of the temperatures in Luxor throughout the year.