Luxor is often, erroneously, referred to as ancient Thebes and while this is correct due to the Greek Period of ancient Egypt, the inferences are incorrect as during the Pharaonic times Luxor was known as Waset (transliterated from w3s.t in hieroglyphs), though it was sometimes referred to as Ta Ipet (transliterated from t3 ip3t in hieroglyphs). Waset literally means “city of the sceptre” and Ta Ipet means “the shrine”. The actual name “Luxor” has its roots in the Arabic word for palaces, al-quṣūr, due to the many temples being hidden underneath sand, except for the lintels on top of the columns that bared a resemblance to the foundation blocks of palaces.
Luxor is often called the "world's greatest open air museum" and this is no idle claim. Apart from the two temples (Luxor and Karnak) that are situated within the city itself, across the River Nile, on what is known as the West Bank, is the area that the ancient Egyptians knew as “the city of the dead” (the East Bank being known as “the city of the living”). This area was a vast necropolis and housed, and still houses, a myriad of tombs (including the Valley of the Kings), mortuary temples (including the Temple of Hatshepsut), and palaces. Nowhere else in the world can boast so many ancient monuments in such a small area of space.
Nowadays Luxor is a city that is 90% dependant on tourism, having no industry of its own. Even the remaining 10% indirectly depend on tourism as they are the people that help feed, clothe, furnish, and entertain those who are directly involved. Can there be any other city in the world that is as dependant on tourism as Luxor is? And it is not just a small village community either, Luxor, the city, has a population of just over half a million people, and its governorate, the smallest and youngest in Egypt, having just over twice that amount. It has its own international airport and is connected to Cairo and Aswan by rail, journeys taking approximately 10-11 and 3-4 hours respectively. It is also a 3-4 hour drive from the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
Sites to see on the East Bank:
Sites to see on the West Bank:
Deir El Bahri (Mortuary Temples of Mentuhotep II, Hatshepsut, and Thutmose III)
Deir El Medina (workers' village)
Malqata (Palace of Amenhotep III)
Medinet Habu (Mortuary Temple of Ramses III)
Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III (Colossi of Memnon)
Mortuary Temple of Seti I
The Ramesseum (Mortuary Temple of Ramses II)
Tombs of the Nobles
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Queens