is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt
and the capital of Luxor Governorate.As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes
, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "World
's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak
and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank
Necropolis, which include the Valley of the Kings
and Valley of the Queens
. Thousands of tourists from all around the world arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing a large part towards the economy for the modern city.
The economy of Luxor, like that of many other Egyptian cities, is heavily dependent upon tourism. Large numbers of people also work in agriculture, particularly sugarcane. The local economy, reliant on tourism, was greatly hit by the Luxor massacre in 1997, in which a total of 64 people (including 59 visiting tourists) were killed, at the time the worst terrorist attack in Egypt (before the Sharm el-Sheikh
terrorist attacks): it reduced tourist numbers for several years. However, tourist numbers have since recovered. Following the 2011 Arab Spring, tourism to Egypt dropped significantly again affecting local tourist markets. To make up for shortfalls of income, many cultivate their own food. Goat's cheese, pigeons, subsidized and homebaked bread and home-grown tomatoes are commonplace among the majority of its residents.
A controversial tourism development plan aims to transform Luxor into a vast open-air museum. The master plan envisions new roads, five-star hotels, glitzy shops, and an IMAX theatre. The main attraction is an 11 million dollar project to unearth and restore the 2.7-kilometre-long Avenue of Sphinxes that once linked Luxor and Karnak temples. The ancient processional road was built by the pharaoh Amenhotep III and took its final form under Nectanebo I in 400 BCE. Over a thousand sphinx statues lined the road now being excavated which was covered by silt, homes, mosques and churches. Excavation started around 2004.
A bridge was opened in 1998, a few kilometres upstream of the main town of Luxor, allowing ready land access from the east bank to the west bank. Traditionally, however, river crossings have been the domain of several ferry services. The so-called 'local ferry' (also known as the 'National Ferry') continues to operate from a landing opposite the Temple of Luxor. The single fare (June 2008) is 1 L.E. - one Egyptian Pound - per passenger for foreigners. Egyptian nationals pay ¼ of that, 25 piasters. This ferry is mainly used by the locals although a number of foreigners do use it.
The sites on the west bank are further than you think and you will need transport - taxi drivers often approach ferry passengers, and it is recommended that a fare be negotiated ahead of time. There are also local cars that reach some of the monuments for 25 piasters, although tourists rarely use them. Alternatively, motorboats line the east bank of the Nile all day providing a quicker, but more expensive (5 L.E.), crossing to the other side.
Sights of Modern-Day Luxor