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Luxor - the "treasure chest" on the Nile

Upper Egypt, actually this is the poor region of the country. However, this area between Al Balyana and its beautiful temple of Setoy I. in Abydos in the north and Abu Simbel in the south with the huge rock temples of Rameses II. is indescribable rich. Rich in antiquities from pharaonic times. In the centre of this "giant treasury" the city of Luxor is located.

With its magnificant temple complexes, its gigantic monuments and the necropolis from time immemorial, cultural travellers from all over the world are spellbound by the ancient residence of the pharaohs. Nearly no visitor who once is bewitched by the "beauty on the Nile" and her charm, is able to free himself from her magic. And who is gripped by the "drug" Luxor will never get enough, will come back again and again to discover more.

Under ancient Egyptian name "Waset" the rulers of the New Kingdom (ca. 1567-1085 v.Chr.) chose the city to be the capital of Egypt. The Greek philosoph and poet Homer with his "Ilias" handed down to us the name "Thebes of the hundred gates". The moslems named it "Al Uqsur", the city of the palaces. Based on this Arabic word for foreigners the name Luxor was created. Certainly the palaces are declined, but still nowadays Luxor is the centre of Egypts culture.

On the eastern bank of the Nile, the side of the rising sun, the side of life, the kings built up their temples. The western side, the side of sunset, belonged to the dead. In the mountains behind the agricultural area they constructed their hidden tombs inside the rocks, built their mortuary temples. For their expected afterlife the burial places were endowed with all necessities. The fascinating and colourful reliefs and wall paintings of the tombs tell us about the – of course good – deeds of the "inhabitants".

Which side of Luxor is more impressive? East or west? Finally everybody has to find out for himself. And after the indispensible first "classical" trip we advise people interested in the heritage, absolutely to visit the more unknown sites, that tourleaders – unfortunately but at the same time understandably – nearly ignore. Because during the first visit of their guests they have to select for them the most important sites from the wealth of art treasure only. More nobody can take in consideration within some days. But many travellers after this getting in will be infected by the "virus Egypt". And for sure they will discover the sleeping precious objects of the "treasure chest Luxor" that are out of the tourist track during their next trip.

Most of Luxor's guests start their sightseeing programme in visiting the temples of the East Bank – as there are the Luxor and the Karnak temple, followed by a quick trip to the so called West Bank. Although the two sides are now connected by the Luxor bridge: all those who are not involved in packages should prefer to cross the river Nile by boat – like it is tradition since thousands of years – or use the public ferry (moorings beside the Mummification Museum), over there take one of the taxis. Most of the drivers are very experienced, appreciate it to provide to you valuable advises. And who has enough time, should deepen his impressions by visiting the Luxor and the Mummification Museum.

But it will not be a real visit to Egypt, if a stroll through the bazar is missing. Of course also Luxor has to offer this colourful oriental markets. When walking through the narrow streets of the city you find the common souvenirs like gold and silver, scarfs and fabrics, clay, brass and leather goods, but also water pipes, handy crafts and carpets. Just everything that meets with the stereotype. Who dares to dive in a bit further also finds the normal goods of the daily life: vegetables, fruits, bread and pastry, household articles, shoes, clothes and so on, and so on.... For a really good price you not only need a special knack for haggling but patience and strong nerves as well. Try out this typical oriental game, watch out the rules. After a while you will feel, where a trader really sets his limits. And if someones behaviour is too importunate, don't hesitate to say "no". Because you only want to buy something that you like, and the seller wants to make a successful business. Therefore there always will be a way to satisfy both sides. And of course you find places making sure you don't go hungry, thirsty or without entertainment. Lots of smaller and bigger restaurants and hotels all around offer their services to you. (Text and Fotos Antje and Wolfgang Sliwka)

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