Saturday, June 1, 2013

What I did on my holidays (By QM Twoflower) #2

The second day after an evenings entertainment with a Whirling Dervish, complete with a light up robe or two (has to be seen to be believed) and a belly dancer our agenda took us to the eastern side of the Nile and the temples of Luxor and Karnak.
Our guide one of the many interchangeable Mohammed's we got to know (definitely a muslim, not an islamist) explained that the western side was the necropolis or land of the dead, ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation and as the sun set in the west and rose again in the east so that's where the dead went. The east though was where they put their temples for the living...
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom, and the home of the great god Amon Ra

Part of the temple at Luxor
One of the first things you notice at Luxor is the new excavations they are making, they've discovered a 3km straight road between Luxor and Karnak temples complete with a sphinx every couple of metres or so.

More sphinx's than you can shake a hat at.
The excavations aren't finished yet, but what they had done was bloody impressive.
The other thing you notice about the temple are the number of columns forming a hypostyle hall, which essentially meant it had a roof but no walls.

Doing it in (hypo) style
All I can say is that the ancient Egyptians must have had a lot of time on their hands, or were seriously into their gods.
If we thought Luxor was impressive, well Karnak washed that impression away. The place is huge and superbly well preserved even though the actual building work was abandoned at one stage in the past.

This is just the entrance.
The complex is a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It is believed to be the second most visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits. It consists of four main parts, of which only the largest is currently open to the general public.

A Pharaoh and his wife, note her importance ;-)

Twin obelisks, oddly enough they are different sizes, one 36 metres, the other 28 metres tall
 One of the things we discovered was that if a statue had both feet together then it was made when the Pharaoh was dead, if he had a foot forward then it was made when he was alive.

Sacred lake, for priestly ablutions
Also on the site was a sacred lake where the pries after shaving all his hair off (daily) had to clean himself off before beginning his daily duties which mostly appear to comprise of dusting.

There's a statue of a scarab near the lake and there's a legend says that single women who circle the scarab statue seven times will find their true love. A few of our participants fell for it and took the walk, with no visible (so far) results.
This is but a taster of what can be seen at Luxor and Karnak, I'd really suggest you go and look for yourselves if it interests you that much, words simply aren't enough.
After that we visited a perfumery and bought some of the oils on sale there, just mix with water and you have what appears to be some of the better perfumes and aftershaves on sale at a huge mark up in the West.
After that back on the boat we discovered that one of our table friends had managed to acquire a litre of gin from one of the returning to England tourists. A friendly barman (also called Mohammed) supplied us with tonic for the 'special water' and G and T's became the apperitif of choice for the hot afternoons...

3 annotations:

Anonymous said...

Love the Pharaoh and his wife statue. Enjoyed the pics thankyou for sharing.

StourbridgeRantBoy said...

ALL that and topped off with G+T's - tough old life! Must visit (primarily for birding purposes) sometime....

Nice set of pics -

Laurie -

Anonymous said...

It terrifies me that if hardcore islam ever takes over in Egypt then these priceless treasures might be destroyed for being "un-islamic" as the Bamiyan Buddhas were and what a tragedy that would be.