After we left Karnak, we made our way to the beautiful Luxor Temple.
Luxor Temple was founded in 1400 B.C. and is dedicated to Amun, a creator deity often fused with the sun-god Ra to become Amun-Ra.
Each year, to ensure the flooding of the Nile which was necessary for prosperity, the statues of Amun, Mut (goddess of war), and Khons (the moon god) were sailed down the river to Karnak for a great festival.
The entrance to the temple is quite extraordinary as you pass two grand statues of Rameses. Originally, there were six statues - four seated and two standing; I can only imagine how dramatic this must have looked in ancient times. Also surviving is a 25-metre tall pink granite obelisk. It was one of a matching pair; in 1835 the other obelisk was taken to Paris where it now stands in the centre of the Place de la Concorde.
The main part of the temple - the colonnade and the sun court were built by Amenhotep III, and a later addition by Rameses II.
During the Late Period, the temple fell into disrepair. Alexander the Great claimed to have undertaken major reconstruction work "to restore it to the glory of Amenhotep's times" in the 320s BC. While Rome dominated Egypt the temple was converted into a centre for the Roman emperor cult.By the time of the Arab conquest, the temple was largely buried underneath accumulated river silt, to the extent that the Mosque of Abu Haggag was built on top of it in the 13th century (much reworked since, but one of the minarets dates back to the original construction).
There is a doorway that leads out into thin air some 8 meters above the ground. I love the detail woodwork on the windows. Reminds me of something you'd see in Morocco.
Walking through Luxor Temple was fascinating. The hieroglyphics were beautiful.
What I found particularly interesting were the Roman stuccoes created on top of the Egyptian carvings since in Roman times parts of the temple served as chapels where local Christians were offered a final opportunity to renounce their faith and embrace the pagan state religion.
As you exit you see the road, known as the Sacred Way or Avenue of Sphinxes dating from the time of Nectanebo I in the 30th Dynasty.
Once we were done exploring Luxor Temple, we said goodbye to Mohammad and we met our Luxor rep who eventually took us to the airport. But before we left he dropped us off so we could have some free time to do whatever we choose. R & I went to a few shops to do some last minute shopping. I have to say R is an awful bargainer; he hates to bargain. R basically gives the seller his one offer which is also his final offer right at the beginning of the negotiations. I tried to coach him and explain how shopping was like a game - but he wanted nothing to do with it. A few days earlier R & I bought the same souvenir for S & F but because R started the negotiations first I ended up being totally taken! lol! I admit negotiating for a good price can be a bit intimidating at first but when you get into it it's actually pretty fun. Right before I left I wanted to buy Numeracy Grrrl a glass perfume bottle for watching C. I tenaciously bargained with the vendor. Of course throughout the process he acted like he was upset over my offers and I did the same explaining how this was my last day in Egypt - how could he possibly let me leave Egypt without a traditional perfume bottle. We were both pulling out all the stops. Going back & forth drove R absolutely crazy so much so that he left the shop and waited for me outside. lol! Towards the end we were negotiating over a $1 - I know it sounds ridiculous but you get caught up in the moment - but we eventually agreed on a price and then he became the sweetest man ever. lol!
We were getting quite hungry at this point so and were craving local, authentic Egyptian food but there weren't many restaurants to choose from so we went to Hilton and had a nice lunch.
Our Luxor rep arrived right on time and whisk us off to the airport where we caught a flight back to Cairo. At the Cairo airport we were greeted by another Lady Egypt rep who was absolutely wonderful - super friendly guy. The drive to our hotel took a bit longer than expected due to the heavy traffic but it seem to fly by since we were talking so much.
For our last night in Egypt, we stayed at The Marriott in Cairo which was absolutely amazing and because it was decorated for Christmas it looked even more spectacular with lights and poinsettias everywhere. I was amazed by how many people travel around the holidays. The hotel had a high level of security and the inside looked like a palace. As C would say... it was quite posh. lol! R & I were in heaven - comfy mattress and tons of fluffy pillows... We had a great night sleep.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch our flight back to Brussels. While we ate breakfast we ran into some of the ladies we had met at Abu Sembel. Many of them were ready to go home but R & I felt differently.
We both could have stayed for a few days - maybe relaxing by the Red Sea. ;) Next time. Visiting Egypt made me realize how fascinating and exotic other parts of the world can be. I know that this is just beginning for me. I hope to open many more doors - India, Jordan, China, Peru... because for me traveling isn't just a passion it's a way of life.