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Luxor : West Bank
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Luxor/West Bank

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*[http://www.thebanmappingproject.com The Theban Mapping Project] - combining the ''Atlas of the Valley of the Kings'' and the ''Atlas of the Theban Necropolis'' in a vast, award-winning Flash-based presentation - an amazing resource for the visitor
 
*[http://www.thebanmappingproject.com The Theban Mapping Project] - combining the ''Atlas of the Valley of the Kings'' and the ''Atlas of the Theban Necropolis'' in a vast, award-winning Flash-based presentation - an amazing resource for the visitor
  
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Revision as of 10:27, 8 August 2005

The West Bank of Luxor in Egypt is even more of an archaeological paradise than the East Bank. A string of pharaonic mortuary temples vies with the richly-decorated Tombs of the Nobles and the Workmens' Village of Deir el-Medineh for the traveller's attention. Although most visitors tend to stay on the East Bank, a growing number now consider the West Bank as a good accommodation option - once you're awake, no need to bother crossing the river.... all the sights are right at your doorstep.

Get in

Access to the West Bank is easy to arrange. There is now a new road bridge over the Nile, some 7 km south of Luxor main town - many package tourists now get to the West Bank by this means.

By Boat

By far the quickest, most authentic and romantic manner of crossing the Nile to the west, however, is by ferry or motor launch.

There used to be two ferry services until recently: a tourist ferry (now superseded by the road bridge) and the local residents' ferry (baladi ferry). The baladi ferry costs £1 for foreigners, 10 pt for locals, and departs from its dock close to the ticket gate for the Temple of Luxor. There is no set schedule: ferries depart when they have filled up or until a decent period of time has passed.

Make an effort to smile and chat with the locals - you'll be using their ferry boat after all! But do be wary of the very few high pressure salesmen who might be on board, hoping to snare you for a taxi fare or accommodation offers - check their offer out, feel free to bargain.... if it's good, take it, otherwise a firm, but polite "No, thank you" (la shukran) should do the trick.

Motor launches have no set dock - they set out from wherever they can pick up an agreeable customer. Prices shoulf be around £5-7, £1-1.50 per person if travelling in a group of 5 or more. The advantage of a launch, of course, is being able to get going immediately.

Get around

Foot

It is possible to walk around the West Bank on foot, but don't underestimate the distances, which can be deceptively greater than appearances might suggest. It is, for example, about 3 km from the ferry to your first probable stop, the Ticket Office (you do get to see the Colossi of Memnon on the way for free!) Make sure you wear sensible footwear and carry water, especially in summer, and be careful of local drivers

To make the best use of your time and save your strength for exploring, it's probably best to stick to wheeled transportation.

Service Taxi

Taxi

Bicycle

A number of bike rental outlets are available at the ferry crossings.

Donkey

See

  • the Colossi of Memnon, free admission, view from the roadside

Medinet Habu and Surroundings

  • Medinet Habu (the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III), admission LE 20 - the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III

Valley of the Queens

  • the Tomb of Nefertari
  • the Tomb of Amunhirkhepeshef

Deir el Medineh

  • the Workmens' Village
    • the Tomb of Inherka
    • the Tomb of Senedjem
    • the Tomb of Peshedu
  • the Ptolemaic Temple

Gurna

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)
Ozymandias "King of Kings"
  • the Ramesseum - the common name given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II (the Great). The site of the Ramesseum includes the fallen colossal statue of the pharaoh that inspired the sonnet Ozymandias by Shelley, now the focus of a major restoration project. Originally 17 m (69 ft) high, the statue weighs in excess of 1000 tons and was transported from Aswan in a single block. The pylons of the temple preserve depictions of the famed Battle of Qadesh waged by Egyptian forces under Ramesses II against the Hittite Empire, the city of Qadesh lying in central Syria, then the contested boundary between the two great ancient empires. Behind the pylons, where visitors now enter the temple, the Second Court features a portico fronted by massive statues of Ramesses II in the form of Osiris, the god of the underworld. A hypostyle hall occupies the centre of the temple, featuring a well-preserved and painted ceiling. The stone-built temple buildings are surrounded byb the remains of a mud-brick royal palace and storage magazines.
Relief block from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, subsequently re-used in the mortuary temple of Merneptah and preserved within the small museum on site
  • the Mortuary Temple of Merneptah, admission LE 10 - found immediately adjacent to the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Merneptah (the 13th son and eventual successor to the long-lived Ramesses II) was re-opened in 2002 as a new attraction after the careful and effective reconstruction of the temple foundations and lower courses by a Swiss archaeological team. (The temple was first excavated by the famous English Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1904 and was the scene of his discovery of the so-called Israel Stela, featuring the earliest recorded mention of Israel in ancient sources, now to be seen in Cairo's Egyptian Museum). Although not featuring the inscribed wall reliefs and towering columns associated with many Egyptian temples, the Merneptah temple nonetheless now provides a unsurpassed impression of the layout of a 19th dynasty funerary temple with many interesting architectural details. A small partly-subterranean museum is also to be found on site, in which many of the magnificent painted reliefs and sculpture (many usurped by Merneptah from the nearby Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III) are displayed. Sadly neglected by many visitors to the West Bank, the site and museum are nonetheless well worth a visit.
  • the Tombs of Nobles in Qurna / Gurna (Sheikh Abd el-Gurna)
    • the Tombs of Khonsu, Userhat and Benia
    • the Tombs of Menna and Nakht
    • the Tombs of Ramose, Userhat and Khaemhat
    • the Tombs of Sennefer and Rekhmire
    • the Tombs of Neferenpet, Thutmose and Neferskheru
  • Gurna Discovery

Asasif

  • the Asasif Tombs

Deir el-Bahari

  • Deir el-Bahari, admission LE 20 -
    • the Temple of Hatshepsut -
    • the Temple of Montuhotep II -

Dra Abu el-Naga

  • the Mortuary Temple of Seti I
  • Carter's House - this lonely, domed building - on the hill above the intersection where the main road to the Valley of the Kings meets the road to the Temple of Seti I - represents the house in which Howard Carter lived for the years he spent searching for the tomb of Tutankhamun

Do

  • Consider an early morning balloon ride over the ruins of the West Bank. One company that offers this service is Magic Horizon Balloons [1], but there are others, so shop around...

Buy

Souvenirs, alabaster, perfume, etc....

Eat

The best restaurant in Luxor (if not all of Egypt) is the Tutankhamun, located on the West Bank on the banks of the Nile south of the ferry landing. The food is absolutely incredible-Chef Mahmoud has an incredible touch with the spices-curry chicken with apples and bananas is pure delight. The menu is a fixed one, with a choice of main dish, and varies depending on what is in season. The prices are not dirt cheap, but a similar meal in a five star hotel would cost you probably five or six times of the Tutankhamun.


Sleep

Splurge

  • Hotel al-Moudira [2], tel +20 123 251 307, fax +20 123 220 528, 54 double rooms at $150 and $250 per night - opening in July 2002, this hotel was the first to brought luxury 5-star boutique-style accommodation (with a distinct Oriental twist: domed ceilings, latticework, hand-painted frescoes) to the West Bank of Luxor! Al-Moudira includes the only swimming pool on the West Bank in its spacious grounds.

Contact

Stay Safe

  • Carry plenty of water, wear sensible shoes and a hat, strongly consider sunscreen - the West Bank is too amazing to be spent in pain and discomfort! - and bring a torch (some of the tombs are quite dark).
  • Save up plenty of small notes to pay baksheesh to the guides.

External links

  • The Theban Mapping Project - combining the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings and the Atlas of the Theban Necropolis in a vast, award-winning Flash-based presentation - an amazing resource for the visitor