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as Thebes it was described by Homer as "the hundred-gated city." Its later name, al-Uqsur, means "City of the Palaces." Testaments to a desire for immortality, built for eternity in sandstone and granite, the temples, tombs and palaces still stand, surrounded by souks and luxury hotels. On the east bank of the Nile, in the City of the Living, Luxor and Karnak Temples greet the sunrise. The sunset on the west bank throws shadows through the City of the Dead: the Tombs of the Nobles, the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut's temple.
Today, you can walk through history; past statues with the heads of gods and animals, beneath carved lotus buds and papyrus. Ride in a horse-drawn caleche, sail in a felucca, take a sunset cruise or see the city from a hot-air balloon.
Please be aware that more than 80 percent of Egyptian artifacts are in the Thebes area and plan your visit accordingly. Many tours devote only four days to the area, with one of those days being a side trip to Abydos and Dendera.
Elsewhere in this region, we find not only some of the oldest remains in Egypt, but also the history of trade and agriculture, of vast camel caravans and the cities that grew from that.
How to Get to Luxor From outside Egypt
Many international flights now go direct to Luxor or fly Cairo-Luxor- Cairo, contact our booking department for details.
Wagons-Lits and other trains depart from Ramses Station. For air-conditioned express trains with a restaurant car, contact Wagons-Lits. Tel: +20-2-3492365.
By bus or service taxi from the Ahmed Helmi terminal, near Ramses Station. Tel: +20-2-3646658.
Cruises down the Nile, with accommodation en route, can be arranged through your travel agent.
Enjoy Luxor Excursions The ancient name for the city the Greeks called Thebai was Waset, the Scepter nome, and it was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. It was close to Nubia and the eastern desert, with their valuable mineral resources and trade routes. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand, and the western bank, where are the large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes.
Waset was little more than a provincial town in the Old Kingdom. Though two brick-built mastaba tombs dating from the 3rd or 4th dynasty have been found in the Theban area, and a small group of tombs have been found dating from the 5th and 6th Dynasties in the area of the necropolis known as el-Khokha, it is not clear if there was an actual Old Kingdom settlement here. The royal residence and tombs, as well as most of the tombs of the court and government nobles at this time, were primarily built at Saqqara near Memphis, closer to the Delta.
No buildings survive in Thebes older than the portions of the Karnak temple complex, which may date from the Middle Kingdom, but the lower part of a statue of King Niuserre of the 5th Dynasty has been found in Karnak. Another statue which was dedicated by King Senwosret of the 12 dynasty may have been usurped and re-used by him, since the statue bears a cartouche of Niuserre on its belt. Since seven rulers of the 4th to 6th Dynasties appear on the Karnak king list, perhaps at the least there was a temple in the Theban area which dated to the Old Kingdom.
According to the current historical record, Thebes did not come into its political strength until the First Intermediate Period. A large number of private inscriptions from this period indicate that the rulers, or provincial governors, or Koptos, Moalla, and Thebes are prominent at this time. One governor named Ankhtifi relates that though he was able to take over the areas of Edfu and others, he was subsequently defeated by forces from Thebes and Koptos.
The Theban rulers were apparently of the family Inyotef, who before long began to write their names in cartouches. The second of this name even called himself the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, though his power didnt extend much further than the general Theban region.