Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 (2010 estimate),with an area of approximately 416 square kilometres (161 sq mi).
As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open-air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
Thousands of tourists from all around the world arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing greatly to the economy of the modern city.
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes|
|RELIGION :||Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%|
|AREA :||416 km2 (161 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||76 m (249 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||25°41′N 32°39′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.22|
• Female: 49.78
|ETHNIC :||Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4%|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||85511|
|DIALING CODE :||(+20) 95|
|WEBSITE :||official website|
Luxor is the premier travel destination in Upper (southern) Egypt and the Nile Valley. The dynastic and religious capital of Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Egypt, Luxor has much to offer the traveller, from vast temples, to ancient royal tombs, via spectacular desert and river scenery and a bustling modern life.
A controversial tourism development plan aims to transform Luxor into a vast open-air museum. The master plan envisions new roads, five-star hotels, glitzy shops, and an IMAX theatre. The main attraction is an 11 million dollar project to unearth and restore the 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi) long Avenue of Sphinxes that once linked Luxor and Karnak temples. The ancient processional road was built by the pharaoh Amenhotep III and took its final form under Nectanebo I in 400 BCE. Over a thousand sphinx statues lined the road now being excavated which was covered by silt, homes, mosques and churches. Excavation started around 2004.
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of (Upper) Egypt during the New Kingdom, and the glorious city of Amun, later to become the god Amun-Ra. The city was regarded in the Ancient Egyptian texts as w3s.t (approximate pronunciation: "Waset"), which meant "city of the sceptre" and also as t3 ip3t (conventionally pronounced as "ta ipet" and meaning "the shrine") and then, in a later period, the Greeks called it Thebai and the Romans after them Thebae. Thebes was also known as "the city of the 100 gates", sometimes being called "southern Heliopolis" ('Iunu-shemaa' in Ancient Egyptian), to distinguish it from the city ofIunu or Heliopolis, the main place of worship for the god Re in the north. It was also often referred to as niw.t, which simply means "city", and was one of only three cities in Egypt for which this noun was used (the other two were Memphis and Heliopolis); it was also calledniw.t rst, "southern city", as the southernmost of them.
The importance of the city started as early as the 11th Dynasty, when the town grew into a thriving city, by native nubi Egyptian, it was renowned for its high social status and luxury, but also as a center for wisdom, art, religious and political supremacy. Montuhotep II who united Egypt after the troubles of the first intermediate period brought stability to the lands as the city grew in stature. The Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in their expeditions to Kush, in today's northern Sudan, and to the lands of Canaan, Phoenicia and Syria saw the city accumulate great wealth and rose to prominence, even on a world scale.Thebes played a major role in expelling the invading forces of the Hyksos from Upper Egypt, and from the time of the 18th Dynasty to the 20th Dynasty, the city had risen as the political, religious and military capital of Ancient Egypt.
The city attracted peoples such as the Babylonians, the Mitanni, the Hittites of Anatolia(modern-day Turkey), the Canaanites of Ugarit, the Phoenicians of Byblos and Tyre, theMinoans from the island of Crete.A Hittite prince from Anatolia even came to marry with the widow of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun. The political and military importance of the city, however, faded during the Late Period, with Thebes being replaced as political capital by several cities in Northern Egypt, such as Bubastis, Sais and finally Alexandria.
However, as the city of the god Amon-Ra, Thebes remained the religious capital of Egypt until the Greek period. The main god of the city was Amon, who was worshipped together with his wife, the Goddess Mut, and their son Khonsu, the God of the moon. With the rise of Thebes as the foremost city of Egypt, the local god Amon rose in importance as well and became linked to the sun god Ra, thus creating the new 'king of gods' Amon-Ra. His great temple, at Karnak just north of Thebes, was the most important temple of Egypt right until the end of antiquity.
Later, the city was attacked by Assyrian emperor Assurbanipal who installed the Libyanprince on the throne, Psamtik I.The city of Thebes was in ruins and fell in significance. However, Alexander the Great did arrive at the temple of Amun, where the statue of the god was transferred from Karnak during the Opet Festival, the great religious feast. Thebes remained a site of spirituality up to the Christian era, and attracted numerous Christian monks in the Roman Empire who established monasteries amidst several ancient monuments including the temple of Hatshepsut, now called Deir el-Bahri ("the northern monastery")
Luxor has a hot desert climate like the rest of Egypt. Aswan and Luxor have the hottest summer days of any other city in Egypt. Aswan and Luxor have nearly the same climate. Luxor is one of the hottest, sunniest and driest cities in the world. Average high temperatures are above 40 °C (104 °F) during summer (June, July, August) while average low temperatures remain above 22 °C (72 °F). During the coldest month of the year, average high temperatures remain above 22.0 °C (71.6 °F) while average low temperatures remain above 5 °C (41 °F).
The climate of Luxor has precipitation levels lower than even most other places in the Sahara, with less than 1 mm (0.04 in) of average annual precipitation. The desert city is one of the driest ones in the world, and rainfall does not occur every year. The air is mainly dry in Luxor but much more humid than in Aswan. There is an average relative humidity of 39.9%, with a maximum mean of 57% during winter and a minimum mean of 27% during summer.
The climate of Luxor is extremely clear, bright and sunny year-round, in all seasons, with a low seasonal variation, with about some 4,000 hours of annual sunshine, very close of the maximum theoretical sunshine duration.
In addition, Luxor, Minya, Sohag, Qena and Asyut have the widest difference of temperatures between days and nights of any city in Egypt, with almost 16 °C (29 °F) difference.
The hottest temperature recorded was on May 15, 1991 which was 50 °C (122 °F) and the coldest temperature was on February 6, 1989 which was −1 °C (30 °F).
|Daily highs (°C)||23||25.4||27.4||35||39.2||41.4||41.1||40.4||38.8||35.3||28.9||24.4|
|Nightly lows (°C)||5.4||7.1||10.4||16||20.2||22.6||23.6||23.2||21.3||17.3||11.6||7.1|
|Source: Climate Charts|
The economy of Luxor, like that of many other Egyptian cities, is heavily dependent upon tourism. Large numbers of people also work in agriculture, particularly sugarcane.
The local economy was hit by the Luxor massacre in 1997, in which a total of 64 people (including 59 visiting tourists) were killed, at the time the worst terrorist attack in Egypt (before the Sharm el-Sheikh terrorist attacks). The massacre reduced tourist numbers for several years. Following the 2011Arab Spring, tourism to Egypt dropped significantly, again affecting local tourist markets.
To make up for shortfalls of income, many cultivate their own food. Goat's cheese, pigeons, subsidized and home-baked bread and homegrown tomatoes are commonplace among the majority of its residents.
Although a relatively small town by Egyptian population standards, Luxor is quite extensive. It divides naturally into the areas on each side of the river Nile.
The town, the Luxor Temple, the Temple of Karnak, museums, trains, hotels, restaurants.
The major ruins including Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and other important sites; the Western Valley ruins, and a few hotels.
Luxor town has 4 telephone offices, allowing travellers to avoid the often hefty charges levied by hotels and mobile carriers for international phone calls.
The main telephone office is on Sharia Karnak, adjacent to the souqs and almost opposite the Emilio Hotel. It is conveniently open 24 hours a day. Another, smaller branch can be found below the grand sweeping entrance to the Old Winter Palace Hotel on the Corniche (open 0800-2000); whilst a third telephone office exists at the railway station (open 0800-2000) and the fourth telephone office is in Sheraton street, next DHL office.
If you wish to use your cell phone in Luxor, it is advisable to visit the Vodafone shop at the bottom of Television Street. You can buy a Holiday Sim Card, which costs 25LE, and you will avoid any roaming charges, even on international calls. Just top up the card as necessary. If your phone is 'locked' by your phone company, they will advise where you can get it unlocked for a fee of between 30-50LE.
Or buy a local simcard at Orange shop, opposite Pyramisa Isis Hotel, here they sell special tourist lines active for a few days. Also available are microsimcards for iphone4 and iPad users (prepaid) so you can use 3G for local Egyptian prices during your holiday.
There is no shortage of venues in Luxor town to access the internet for email and browsing - the last few years have seen shops and food outlets both great and small venture into cyberspace as a new form of cottage industry. Shop around for the best deal, 1 LE for an hour or 0.5LE for half is often accepted.
Luxor town's main post office is on Sharia al-Mahatta, not far from the intersection with Sharia al-Karnak. Open 0830-1430 daily.
A smaller post office branch can be found in the Tourist Bazaar.