“Did you get to Luxor Temple too?” Ibrahim, my new friend in Luxor asked. “No, maybe I will do so some other time” I said. After a long pause that suggested he was ruminating over something, Ibrahim finally said, “you should have squeezed it in, it’s not far from Karnak and everyone combines a visit to both sites on a single day, I can take you around if you need help.” And that’s how my day at Luxor became a reality.
I met Ibrahim on my way to my hotel. I actually approached him for direction but it turned out he was heading to the same place. We had a general chitchat on the way, and subsequently we bonded.
I have read about the Luxor temple but I didn’t consider it as important as Karnak’s so I didn’t bother to stop there. Besides, by the time I was done exploring the massive Karnak Temple, I was too exhausted (having earlier embarked on a long journey to get there) to do anything else but sleep. Anyway, having a company means more fun so Ibrahim’s offer came quite useful and we agreed to visit the temple the next day.
The Luxor Temple lies near the centre of Luxor, right between modern buildings. This offers us the opportunity to explore the ancient monument and subsequently walk into main town. Well, it also affords us the ease of feeling the curious mix of modern and ancient Luxor and snap pictures around town.
The temple of Luxor is quite dramatic; inside it are a series of gates and courtyards, outside, giant figures and an obelisk (the twin is now in France) flank the entrance. As expected, there were statues and columns in the temple. Most of them have engravings that tell the stories of Egyptian life. Some engravings were so graphical, they looked like engraved photo album.
From the temple, Ibrahim suggested that we cross to the West Bank where all the tombs, pyramids, and funerary art were but I was not keen on that. I knew that directly across the Nile from Luxor is the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Deir el-Medina, Ramesseum, Colossi of Memnon, and the Valleys of the Kings, Queens, and Nobles. They are incredible sites but I was much more interested in life on the streets of the city so we chose to move into the town.
Where else can we meet more people than the market? That’s exactly where we went. It was cool interacting with the locals there. I bought inexpensive custom-made caftan with my name sewn on it in arty Arabic, we also had the best prices on handicrafts and antiques but we could not buy them.
Our last stop was the Luxor Museum. It took a while to decide whether we should visit or not because the ticket price was high, but we eventually did. The museum is not as magnificent as the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo; but it prides itself on the quality of the pieces it has, the uncluttered way in which they are displayed, and the clear multilingual labelling used.
Most of the artifacts displayed at the museum were discovered in the area of ancient Thebes (modern Luxor). The highlights include masterpieces of pharaonic art as well as examples of everyday objects among several other galleries.
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