What's New On Tom's Travel Blog?

Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Temple of Karnak at Luxor

(remember that you can click on any image to enlarge it)

Update 2/25/09: I have modified this post to include a map of the Luxor area which I couldn't find when I made the original post. Also added a section on the remarkable "Avenue of Sphinxes."

My last post concentrated on the Valley of the Kings across the Nile from Luxor, about four hundred miles south of Cairo.

You will probably spend a night or two in Luxor as you explore the Valley of the Kings and perhaps some of the surrounding temples. Even if you don't stay at the Winter Palace Hotel, make it a point to visit there and stroll the grounds.

This map will give you a bit of an overview of the Luxor area. Their are two major temples in Luxor and the immediate area along the Nile.

These are in easy walking distance (about two miles) of each other and of the Winter Palace. I highlighted the two temples in red here and a small but interesting museum in green. The map comes from the Luxor page of this website which has a lot of good information about Egypt and its tourist attractions. At one time, the two mile route between the temples was lined on both sides with stone sphinxes. A surprising amount of this Avenue of the Sphinxes remains and you will want to join the many people who have photographed them.

I have to say that for me, Luxor was the highlight of my first trip to Egypt. Not the city of Luxor, but the amazing Karnak Temple located just a couple of miles from the heart of the modern city. In ancient times, the city in this area was known as Thebes, a name you might recall from your ancient history class. This was the capital of Upper Egypt, before Upper and Lower Egypt were united around 3000 B.C. Thebes was more of a religious center than the administrative center at Memphis (just outside of Cairo.) For over a thousand years, beginning around 1300 B.C., the temple of Amun at Karnak was constructed and enlarged.

As you can imagine, it is possible to build a pretty big building over that period of time. It is the largest temple complex ever built by man, covering about 250 acres, or around 10 million square feet. If you considered that as a single building, it would be at or near the top of any list. The Pentagon has around 7 million square feet of floor space.

The size of the columns, walls and statues in the temple are almost overwhelming. If some of them look familiar, it is because they have appeared in numerous movies. When a movie needs to say "we're in exotic Egypt," this is where the cameras come.

At night, the view of the Luxor temple is very spectacular. And of course, there is a "sound and light" show at the temple of Karnak if you like that sort of production.

A bit off the beaten path in the area between Luxor and Valley of the Kings, you may see this village near the road. One of the good reasons for touring in a small group is that you can ask the driver to stop for photo opportunities.

This village probably doesn't look much different from its appearance in biblical times.

And in the same area, you might notice some crops growing and find that makes an interesting picture too.

No comments: