Karnak and the Valley of the Kings


Later that day (see earlier post), I explored the giant complex of temples, pylons, and a giant pool that are collectively known as the Karnak Temple.  This site is the largest religious structure ever built in all of human history – nothing today comes close to the enormity of Karnak.  Construction was started around 1350 BC by Ramses II, again dedicated to Amun-Ra, the king of the gods and the supreme deity of creation.

The Hypostle Hall near the entrance to Karnak is a massive sea of 143 giant pillars each etched intricately with puzzling hieroglyphics.  As mentioned before, this particular site is arguably the most amazing in all of Egypt.  Don’t get me wrong – the Great Pyramids are awesome.  It was amazing to see them in real life, something that not many people can say they have done.  However, the Hypostle Hall at Karnak is just so amazing.  These giant towers reach over 40 feet into the sky, many of them retaining their original paint from over 3500 years ago.

The next day, my friend Marie and I wanted to explore the ruins on the west bank of the Nile.  These ruins are much farther spread out than the Luxor and Karnak Temples on the east bank.  A trip wouldn’t be complete, however, without a trip to the Valley of the Kings.  Built to resemble the underworld, the valley houses at least 63 (current excavation is still underway) intricate tombs of Egypt’s glorious past.  From the ceiling to the floor, everyone one of the these tombs are covered in colored hieroglyphics or painted tiles.  While the massive amounts of treasure in the tombs is gone, some of the sarcophagi remain (Ramses’ XI sarcophagus is a giant 8 foot stone structure covered in ornate patterns designed to guide his soul in the afterlife). There are even trap doors and hidden pathways to deter grave robbers!  The Egyptians checked our cameras at the front office, so I have no photos of my visit.

On our way out of the Valley of Kings, we asked a truck parked nearby if he could bring us back down to the river.  He obliged, and the men in the back were elated.  In their broken English they told me they were shocked to see tourists – Americans, no less (it’s a lot of Europeans here) – in the back of their truck, as they only thought tourists came to Egypt in big coach buses.  They were giggling the whole way, taking our their phones to snag a few photos of this rare event for them.

On the truck ride back to the boat dock, we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon.  These statues were built over 3400 years ago in the likeness of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Pictures, ok?

On the way to Karnak Temple from the Luxor Temple, stopping in the Luxor souq (open-air market) for some Turkish coffee and lamb shwarma

My friend Marie, who I met in Cairo, and I took a cab to the Karnak Temple - not far, just so hot

A model of the Karnak Temple inside the ticket office place

The entrance to Karnak, lined again by sphinxes. This sphinx road used to lead the 2km down to the Luxor Temple

Hello, headless sphinx

Walking in

Palm trees framed the perimeter of Karnak

Entering the Hypostle Hall, the maze of 143 huge columns

The columns

Close-up of some of the hieroglyphics on the columns

3500 year old paint

More of the Hypostle Hall

Last shot of the Hypostle Hall!

More hieroglyphics...these seemed deeper than the others I saw

Giant ruined statues, near current excavation sites

Since there is no bridge across the Nile, you must take a boat across. Here, I was getting ready to go on a short, 30-minute Nile cruise.

So many people are willing to ferry people across the river for the price of 1 Egyptian pound - less than 20 cents USD.

The west bank of the Nile, across from Luxor proper. The mountains in the background was my next stop, the Valley of the Kings.

Cruising the Nile

Our experienced boat crew...

On the west bank, looking at the east bank. The Luxor Temple is seen on the other side of the river.

The entrance map to the Valley of the Kings, a valley where many pharaohs were laid to rest in amazingly intricate tombs. Trap doors included.

The Egyptians are OCD are pictures, so this was the final place I could use my camera. The valley itself is not very large, but in every nook is a hidden entrance to some ancient pharaoh of Egypt. King Tut was discovered here in 1922.

On the way back to the Nile ferry, but stopping at the Colossi of Memnon. These statues were built to resemble Pharaoh Amenhotep III and were built around 1300 BC.

Me and my buddy Amenhotep III

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2 Responses to Karnak and the Valley of the Kings

  1. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found
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    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She
    never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely
    off topic but I had to tell someone!

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