Luxor - East Bank
The city of Luxor stands on the East Bank of the River Nile in an area that was once called “the city of the living” (the West Bank being referred to as the “city of the dead”). This side of the river is so completely dominated by the Temple of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor, that other interesting sites, such as the Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum, are often overlooked by visitors to this area.
Karnak Temple is the largest temple complex on our planet; its acreage large enough to house ALL of the major Cathedrals in the word, and that includes the Vatican in Rome! Karnak was dedicated to the god Amun and is divided into 3 parts (4 if you include the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten) that are separated by mudbrick walls. From its initial inception, reputably by Senwosret I during the Middle Kingdom, each and every subsequent pharaoh added to the temple right through to the Ptolemaic Period. The world famous hypostyle hall, the hall with 134 massive columns positioned in 16 rows, is accredited to Ramses II.
The Temple of Luxor is amongst the most beautiful temples in the world and is located right in the middle of modern day Luxor, adjacent to the River Nile. Though there could have been some type of religious structure on the site from as far back as the Old Kingdom, Luxor Temple, as it now stands, was originally built by Amenhotep III, who reigned during the early 18th Dynasty. It contains structures from many subsequent periods and, like the Temple of Karnak, many pharaohs enlarged the temple, with Ramses II being responsible for what is now used as the main entrance into its inner sanctum.
One of the best displays of antiquities in Egypt can be seen at the Luxor Museum, which was opened in 1975. Housed within a modern building, in the central part of the city overlooking the River Nile, it displays only a limited amount of antiquities, though this was deliberate as it allows visitors to walk around each of the statues to see the whole item, as well as having multi-lingual labels on, or next to, each item. The quality of the exhibits is second to none.
As well as many of the grave goods from the tomb of Tutankhamen there is a collection of over 25 statues dating from the New Kingdom, discovered in the Temple of Luxor in 1989. The royal mummies of Ahmose I and Ramses I are also housed here, as is a reconstruction of one of the walls of the Temple of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), which was discovered at the Temple of Karnak. The visitor’s centre houses a small theatre that shows a short documentary focusing on the history of the museum, as well as other interesting documentaries about Luxor and Upper Egypt.
On Luxor’s corniche, almost interfering with the entrance to the main ferry terminal, is the entrance to an extremely unique museum, which many people fail to visit. The Mummification Museum shows how the ancient Egyptians used to preserve the body of the deceased, allowing it immortality. Moreover, it was not just human bodies that were mummified, many different types of animal, birds and fish were also preserved and the museum has good examples of mummified cats, fish, and crocodiles on display. Many of the different tools that were utilised whilst preparing the body can also be seen.
Once you have experienced the wonderful world of mummification, you will be able to sit and enjoy a cup of your favourite beverage in the museums spacious cafeteria, whilst watching the activities on the River Nile.