As you take the road to the Valley of the Queens, you will see Pharaoh Amenhotep III carved in stone – twice. The 18-metre-high statues gaze towards the Nile – embodying the long history of tourism. Even back in ancient times, the Greeks and Romans travelled to this site to hear these hulking statues sing. Legend has it that it is lucky to hear the ‘wailing’ sound of the wind blowing around the statues. Thousands of years later, Napoleon took an interest in the sculptures and had their weight estimated: his engineers calculated them at 750 tonnes each. Research on the Colossi of Memnon continues to this day, with archaeologists frequently seen at work here.
A Dramatic Backdrop
No, this is not a Star Wars scene! The temple of Hatshepsut may look extremely modern, but it is more than 3400 years old – and it is the only one of its kind to have been build by a woman. It is believed that Queen Hatshepsut, with her fondness for symmetry and columns, even created the model on which the Greek and Roman temples were built. Stride down the massive ramps and gaze majestically over the desert from the parapet of the terraces. Inside, well-restored paintings invite you to go on a mental journey: the images tell of Egyptian expeditions to Central Africa and of the animals and Gods they met across. The only part that is more majestic than the building itself are the reddish rocks that surround it – in particular in the evening light when they create a truly cinematic scene.
A Temple for Our Time
If you would like to spend some time in cool indoor surroundings for a change, but don’t want to miss out on any of the Egyptian atmosphere, the Luxor Museum is worth a visit. The modern building on the banks of the Nile houses a relatively small, but particularly exquisite collection of ancient Egyptian art. The impressive collection of statues spanning more than 4000 years alone makes it one of the most important museums in the country. Above all, it holds a legendary treasure of international renown: this is where you can marvel at the burial treasure from Tutankhamun’s tomb up close.
- Header - Photo by Eric Valenne geostory on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 1 - Photo by Hackenberg-Photo-Cologne on Alamy
- Paragraph 2 - Photo by agefotostock on Alamy
- Paragraph 2 - Photo by Stephen Hughes on Alamy
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by Anton Belo on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by skaman306 on Getty Images
- Paragraph 4 - Photo by zbg2 on Getty Images
- Paragraph 5 - Photo by Paul Panayiotou on Getty Images
- Paragraph 5 - Photo by Pablo Charlón on Getty Images
- Paragraph 6 - Photo by Art Directors & TRIP on Alamy