Luxor, Arabic Al-Uqṣur, also called El-Aksur, city and capital of Al-Uqṣur muḥāfaẓah (governorate), Upper Egypt. Luxor has given its name to the southern half of the ruins of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Area governorate, 1,080 square miles (2,800 square km); city, 160 square miles (415 square km)
Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum, but that comes nowhere near describing this extraordinary place. Nothing in the world compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes.
The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the Nile flowing between the modern city and west-bank necropolis, backed by the enigmatic Theban escarpment. Scattered across the landscape is an embarrassment of riches, from the temples of Karnak and Luxor in the east to the many tombs and temples on the west bank.
Thebes’ wealth and power, legendary in antiquity, began to lure Western travelers from the end of the 18th century. Depending on the political situation, today’s traveler might be alone at the sights or be surrounded by coachloads of tourists from around the world. Whichever it is, a little planning will help you get the most from the magic of Thebes.
The Ancient Ruins
The southern part of Thebes grew up around a beautiful temple dedicated to Amon, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons. Commissioned by King Amenhotep III (Amenophis III; reigned 1390–53 BCE) of the late 18th dynasty, the temple was built close to the Nile River and parallel with the bank and is known today as the Temple of Luxor. An avenue of sphinxes connected it to the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak. The modern name Luxor (Arabic: Al-Uqṣur) means “The Palaces” or perhaps “The Forts,” from the Roman castra.
Luxor, together with other Theban sites—Karnak, the Valley of the Queens, and the Valley of the Kings—was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Excavations and preservation efforts have been ongoing. In 1988 the Egyptian Antiquities Organization uncovered numerous 18th-dynasty statues at the court of Amenhotep III, and work to excavate and preserve the court continued through the following decades. In the 21st century a project began to excavate the avenue of sphinxes between the Temple of Luxor and the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak.
The contemporary city, a market town for the surrounding agricultural district, has grown north, south, and east of the temple. It has a number of churches, as a large proportion of the population is Christian, and mosques. There is also a railway station on the Cairo-Aswān railroad, an airport, and ferry service to the western bank. The Luxor Museum was opened in 1975. Numerous tourist facilities were built in the latter part of the 20th century.
there are special organized tours to discover the magic of luxor