Luxor is a small town, ideal for walks – whether along the Nile promenade or through the innumberable little streets with their countless souvenir stands. The old bazaar quarter, with its fruit and vegetable market, lies directly behind the Temple of Luxor. The terrace cafe of the Mercure Luxor Hotel, located directly on the banks of the Nile, is a popular meeting place.
The Temple of Luxor
Only a few paces away from the Winter Palace Hotel, you will find one of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt towering up on the bank of the Nile. This is the Temple of Luxor, dedicated to the Theban trinity of gods, Amen, Mut and Khonsu. An inscription tells how King Amenhotep III had the holy shrine built of “fine sandstone,” with “a bed of frankincense on a floor of silver,” and with a wide courtyard “the columns of which are lotus buds.” But this only refers to the temple tract at the back with the various chambers of worship, the great columned court and the monumental colonnade.
The temple was completed in its present form only 100 years afterwards, when Ramses II had another columned courtyard and a huge pylon built in front of the colonnade.
A visit to the temple starts at these gate towers. You will find the best view from the Sphinx Avenue, which leads to the temple from the north. It is the last part of a three-kilometer processional path which led to the temple city of Karnak. Hundreds of sphinxes, between which flowers and trees were planted, once lined the avenue, which until now has only been partly excavated. In the New Kingdom it consisted of ram sphinxes, but these were replaced by the classical type of sphinx, with a king’s head, during restorations carried out under Nektanebo I (Thirtieth Dynasty).