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Egypt is known for the ancient Pharaonic civilization, the landmarks of the ancient Egyptian civilization and antiquities are in Luxor and Aswan, therefore the cities of Luxor and Aswan attract the largest segment of tourism in Egypt, specifically cultural tourism.
Information about Luxor
The city of Luxor is one of the world’s most important archaeological areas, as it contains many Pharaonic monuments and temples since the inception of the ancient Pharaonic civilization and the dynastic eras. It was also known in the past as “Thebes”, the capital of Egypt in the era of the Pharaonic kings, the City of the Hundred Gates, the City of the Sun, the City of the Scepter, and other names.
It was founded in the era of the Fourth Dynasty by King “Sneferu”, the area of Luxor Governorate as a whole is 2960 square kilometers, and it was called Luxor due to the large number of palaces and temples therein.
Luxor most important monuments
- Karnak Temple: It is a group of temples, buildings and columns, in which construction continued from the era of the kings of the Middle Kingdom until the times of the Romans. It was named after the city of Karnak, which is a distorted word from the Arabic word “Kharanq”, which means a fortified village. It was built by King Ramses II as a parking of the sacred boats, and it was initially known as “Bar-Amun” as it was built for the divine trinity of Amun. The Karnak Temple is famous for the sound and light shows that are held in the evening.
- Luxor Temple: It is located on the eastern bank of the Nile River, and was built in the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties by Ramses II. It is a huge gate in the middle of which is the entrance to the temple, and inside the temple there is the road of rams that connects it with the Karnak Temple.
- Temple of Hatshepsut: It is located on the west bank of the Nile River, and was ordered to be built by the queen who ruled Egypt, Hatshepsut, it features distinctive and different designs from the rest of the temples. Temple of Hatshepsut was built in a period of fifteen years of the Queen’s reign, it consists of three floors and a large number of statues made of limestone, including the statues of Queen Hatshepsut and the god Osiris. During the spread of Christianity in Egypt after the end of the Ptolemaic era, Christians established a monastery of worship on the ruins of the Temple of Hatshepsut, and this monastery was devoted for worship until the eleventh century, then, it was named Deir el-Bahari.
- The Colossi of Memnon: They are the two remaining statues from the mortuary temple that was completely destroyed, which was built by Amenhotep III to perpetuate his memory. These two statues aroused the amazement of the Greeks and Romans because of the sound phenomenon that the statues were making, which led to increasing their fame and attracting visitors to see them. This sound appeared as a result of some cracks and voids occurred in the statues as a result of an earthquake in 27 AD, which led to the fact that every morning, with the passage of air from within these voids, the statue made a sound similar to screaming, but this phenomenon ended with the restoration of the two statues in 199 AD by the ruler Septimius.
- Medinet Habu: This ancient city is located on the West Bank of the Nile River, south of Luxor, and this city has a special and unique sanctity among the ancient Egyptians due to their belief, according to the doctrine of Al’Ashmunein, that the eight gods of creation had landed in this spot specifically, and the ancient Egyptians built everything related to life on the eastern side of the Nile River because of their belief that life begins with sunrise, while on the western side they built funerary temples and cemeteries because they believed that with sunset or its death life ends, so this city was blessed with its inclusion of the most important ancient Egyptian monuments, on top of which is the temple of Ramesses III, one of the kings of the Twentieth Dynasty.
- Howard Carter’s House: or “Carter House”, this archaeological house, which is located at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings, was a resting place for the Egyptologist “Carter” while he was in Egypt as part of the campaign funded by Carnarvon in order to excavate antiquities, tombs and pharaohs, at whose hand the great tomb of the boy king “Tutankhamun” was discovered.
- Valley of the Kings: The Valley of the Kings is located on the western bank of the Nile, behind the Deir el-Bahari area, in a secluded desert valley surrounded by a mountain or a rocky pyramid. The kings of the modern state chose this place for several reasons, including that in the past, the pharaohs and kings built their tombs in the form of terraces or pyramids, which made them prominent and clear, which led to the theft of many of these graves, therefore they chose this secluded place to be away from the tomb thieves, another reason for choosing this place is that it was surrounded by a pyramidal rocky mountain, and the shape of the pyramid, in the belief of the ancient Egyptians, symbolized eternal life and resurrection after death. This valley includes more than 60 tombs of kings and nobles of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth dynasties, and it is said that Thutmose I was the first to be buried in this valley.
- Valley of the Queens: This valley is located on the west bank of the Nile River near the Valley of the Kings. It is dedicated to the burial of queens, ladies, daughters, and sons of the modern state, i.e. the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth dynasties. The valley includes more than seventy tombs, the most prominent and famous of which is the tomb of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramses II, and the two tombs for the sons of Ramesses III, the tomb of “Amun-her-khepeshef” and the tomb of “Khaemwaset”. The archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass stated that they might find the tomb of Queen Nefertiti in this area, and if this actually happened, it would be a global fuss and the Egyptian Pharaonic tourism would increase in popularity.
Luxor most important recreational attractions
- Luxor Corniche: which extends for 2 km, where you can enjoy seeing the two banks of the Nile River, or riding stagecoaches.
- Banana Island: It is located on the western bank of the Nile River, and considered one of the most comfortable places because it contains huge banana trees that mix with the waters of the Nile River, and provide its visitors with a quiet and wonderful experience by enjoying the rural atmosphere.
Information about Aswan
Aswan, the southern gate of Egypt, is located on the eastern bank of the Nile, specifically in the south of Luxor Governorate, and it had other names, as they used to call it “Sono” in the past, because it was a market for all the caravans passing through it, it was also known as “the country of gold”, “the land of lower Nubia”, “Sien” in the Ptolemaic era, and “Yabaswan” by the Nubians. The area of Aswan governorate is 34.68 square kilometers, and includes the High Dam.
Aswan most important monuments
- Abu Simbel Temple: It was built by King Ramesses II after his victory in one of his battles. This temple is famous for the phenomenon of sunlight perpendicular to the face of the statue of King Ramesses II for a few minutes during only two days every year, it is also painted on the Egyptian pound. There are 4 statues on the front of the temple, the head of one of these statues fell as a result of an earthquake that occurred during the twenty-fifth dynasty, before it was moved to its current location. In front of the temple, there is another temple built by Ramesses II for his wife, Queen Nefertari, as a gift for her and to perpetuate her memory.
- Philae Temple: or the Temple of Isis, the temple was established on the island of Philae, which is located in the middle of the Nile River in Aswan, in the third century BC, and because of the fear of the floods of the Nile River that would drown it, it was moved to Agilika Island, which is half a kilometer from the island of Philae and is located south of Lake Nasser. This temple was established to worship the goddess Isis, and the temple is linked to the famous myth of Isis and Osiris.
- Kom Ombo Temple: The temple is located in the city of Kom Ombo, about 45 km north of Aswan, and 60 km south of Edfu. The façade of the temple has vertical blinds, but most of which have been demolished. The most prominent characteristic of this temple is that it was dedicated to the worship of two opposite gods, namely “Sobek”, who represents the evil and is represented in the form of a crocodile, and the god “Horus the Wise”, who represents the good and is represented in the form of a falcon, the reason for the worship of the ancient Egyptians to Sobek was that crocodiles often attacked farmers and others, so they sanctified the crocodile in order to protect themselves from its evils.
- Kalabsha Temple: The temple is 57 km south of the Sudan Dam, and was established primarily to worship the sun god Mandolis, and other deities. It was built almost during the reign of Amenhotep II, one of the kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and in the era of the Ptolemies, it was restructured on a larger area and with a better design, it is very similar in its architectural designs to many other temples, such as the Karnak Temple, the Edfu Temple, the Philae Temple, and the Dendera Temple.
- Elephantine Island: In the past, this island served as a port through which ivory was received, and that is why it was given this name, which means “elephant ivory”, the island itself is also shaped like an elephant’s tusk. On this island there are two villages inhabited by Nubians who work in handicrafts, tourism and agriculture, and there is also the Aswan Museum therein.
- Seheil Island: This island is located south of Aswan, and in the past they used to extract granite from it. Tourists and visitors can visit this island and the homes of its inhabitants and get to know the Nubian culture.
- El Nabatat Island: This island overlooks the western mountain full of treasures and antiquities of the ancient Egyptians, such as the tombs of the nobles, and this island includes many rare trees and plants, such as the sensitive plant. The waters of the island also include the lotus plant, which was a great influence for the pharaohs and the ancient Egyptians, as it was found in the inscriptions that fill the columns and walls of the temples. It also includes perennial trees whose branches extend into the ground for hundreds of years, and the garden includes a section dedicated to tropical plants, which the Nubians used to call the “Natrun Garden” in the past, during the reign of King Fuad I it was known as “King’s Island,” and after the July Revolution it was known as “El Nabatat Island”.
Aswan recreational attractions
- Aswan Corniche: The Corniche is located north of the city of Aswan, west of the Nile River, where you can enjoy the sunset or sunrise, and practice walking, it also features many shops and cafes.
- Nubian Village: The origins of this village date back about a hundred years, it is reached through a boat, its visitors can enjoy all aspects and traditions of the distinctive Nubian life, it is also possible to sleep in one of the Nubian houses.