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Luxor

Situated on the banks of the Nile, modern-day Luxor was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes (also known to the Ancient Egyptians as Waset). Thebes was first inhabited from around 3200 BCE, initially merely as a small trading post when the Old Kingdom capital was at Memphis, near current-day Cairo. Thebes grew as a religious centre throughout the Midde Kingdom between 1900 and 1700 BCE, but rose to huge prominence in the 18th Dynasty (New Kingdom period) when it was made the capital by Pharoah Ahmose I in around 1550 BCE. The New Kingdom, with Thebes as its capital, saw some of the most influential Pharoahs come to power, including Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akenaten and Tutankhamun - after the onset of the 19th Dynasty in 1292 BCE, the capital was moved to the Nile Delta.

On the site of Thebes is the modern town of Luxor, and there are some unbeliveable highlights to be found in and around the town. In the north of the town is the spectacular temple complex of Karnak, the largest temple in Egypt and the second largest religious site ever built in the world (second only to Angkor Wat in Cambodia). From humble beginnings in the Middle Kingdom, Karnak was continually added to and modified all the way up until its abondoment in 323 CE, making it a site that was active for over 2000 years! The temple has a vast array of pillars, pylons, and temples, including the largest still-standing ancient obelisk in the world, erected by Hatshepsut in the mid 15th Century BCE.

On the other side of the Nile on the west bank is the world-famous Valley of the Kings - a hidden labyrinth of tombs of former Pharoahs and other nobles dating from the 16th to the 11th Centuries BCE, including that of Ramses II, Hatshepsut, Akenaten, and of course of Tutankhamun. So far, 63 tombs and chambers have been discovered, many with phenomenal paintings and murals inside that have been protected from sun damage for centuries. Unfortunately, all of the tombs have been ransacked by various tomb robbers throughout the ages - all except for the tomb of Tutankamun, which was discovered in 1922 with the entrance and all the treasures within completely intact - the contents having now been moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.