After our hot balloon adventure, we were dropped back off at our hotel for a few hours of rest before we would go to see the rest of Luxor’s gems. We were a bit worn out after a twelve-hour train ride and getting up at four in the morning, and we were also unwilling to face the hot Egyptian sun that tended to arrive in the early afternoon. After a few hours’ nap, we would meet our guide in the lobby and he took us to our first ancient wonder of the day: the Karnak Temple.
Karnak temple is known as known for Rameses II’s contributions and changes, although it had been constructed hundreds of years before he came to power. In fact, that is one of the things Ramses became the most-known for in modern Egyptology—his ability to repurpose temples in order to suit his own needs and show his power. I was amazed how large the columns were. I’m a short person, but I’ve never felt quite so dwarfed in my life. Carvings of the ancient hieroglyphics still remained and in some areas, we could still see the paint they used in order to cover the entirety of the temple.
We were stopped once by a guard. Daniel and I had grown cautious after being approached constantly by vendors and those looking to take pictures with me when I wasn’t wearing a headscarf hiding my blonde hair. However, he simply wanted to take our photo for us, which was a great reminder to approach each interaction with people you meet on your travels individually.
After a few hours enjoying Karnak, we headed to our next stop with large, liter bottles of water in tow. The Valley of the Kings was one of the spots I was most looking forward to because it is the location of a work constructed by one of my favorite female rulers in history: Queen Hatshepsut. But first, we had to visit the famed tombs that made up the Valley of the Kings. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but you can get an idea of what we saw here. The tombs went on and on and were decorated in bright colors that any king would be ecstatic to have. I was surprised that there was so much blue and gold.
I could have spent days looking at the hieroglyphics and since we were there in August in the off-season, we had most of the tombs to ourselves. We visited three of them over the afternoon, each more impressive than the last.
It was time to visit the spot I was most excited for—Hatshepsut’s temple. In order to proclaim her right as the pharaoh of Egypt, she built a complex that would not only show how badass she was, but also how she was a much more fit ruler than her deceased husband’s son. Hatshepsut’s temple had a number of statues of her outside of it so all who entered could not fail to see her.
It was an impressive structure and there were a number of intact hieroglyphics which out guide showed us. It’s from these that Egyptologists have an idea of how the hieroglyphics looked before all the paint was worn away.
Or day wasn’t done, however. Our final stop was the famed Temple of Luxor where Rameses II had really taken over. What surprised me the most was how there was still a mosque used by the local people right on top of the temple itself. The local people still deemed it as a very holy place—one that was still worth worshipping at.
The temple was smaller than the one at Karnak, but it was more than worth seeing. We learned that the two main temples used to be connected by a road and that the pharaoh would ride on his chariot in between the two.
As the sun was starting to set, we said goodbye and took our last pictures of the impressive structures, wishing we had more time to enjoy them and take a step back into history.
Have you ever seen any ancient sights that took your breath away?