Exploring the Valley of the Kings along Luxor’s West Bank should be another piece added to your travels into Egypt. The temples and the pyramids of ancient Egypt always steal the show when visiting this country due to its popularity, and the ‘WOW’ factor they bring. For those who are feeling a little Indiana Jones like, the Valley of the Kings will be a remarkable visit for you while in Luxor.
The Valley of the Kings is just that, a dry sandy valley, but with no showy temples or monuments along the outside. Unassumingly, deep inside these dusty mountains is where the ‘WOW’ factor comes in. There are treasure troves of tombs for the Kings and nobility of ancient Egypt, such as King Tutankhamun’s and Ramesses IV, located deep inside these valleys. There are an accounted 65 tombs, but only a fraction of those are opened to the general public on any given day.
Ancient Thebes, now modern day Luxor, with its Necropolis was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The remaining temples in this ancient city by the Nile River, which are still standing and are popular visitor attractions are- Karnak, Luxor Temple, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, and the necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
With each tomb, you will go through a large enterance along the hillsides. Once you get your ticket validated, you will enter into a colorful well lit corridor. There are brightly colored hieroglyphics along the walls and painted ceilings. Each corridor is deep, and will bring you into different chambers, such as an antechamber and a burial chamber.
Rameses IX Tomb
The tomb of Rameses IX is basic in design with a deep corridor, an antechamber, and the burial chamber which was once the final resting place of Rameses IX. The walk to the burial chamber is quite easy as there are wooden floors, and handrails along the ramps to the lower levels.
Along the walls of his tomb is a scene of Goddess Isis and Nephthys holding reverence to the sun, as well as several panels of Rameses IX coronation. Along the ceiling are paintings of falcons, wing scarabs, and vultures with their wings spread.
The tomb of Merenptah is massive, and is noted as the second largest tomb at the Valley of the Kings. The passageway to the royal burial chamber is quite long at 525 feet or 160 meters, and at a downward slope. It is an easy walk since the are handrails, and the ground has been boarded.
The tomb of Merenptah is considered to be incomplete, as with many of the other tombs it had been raided. Additionally, there has been erosion and water damage from Nile river leakage into the tomb.
Inside the burial chamber there is an inscription of the Book of Caves, the Book of Gates, and the Book of the Land. The ceiling of the burial tomb was inscribed with an astrological scene which has faded, while most of the wall decorations had been damaged due to the Nile River leak. Although this tomb has been damaged and is incomplete, it is still an incredible site to visit.
Rameses IV Tomb
The tomb of Rameses IV was one of the most vibrant and colorful tombs we visited at the Valley of the Kings. In the past this tomb had an interesting history, and was used as housing for early explorers to the area such as Theodore Davis and Jean-François Champollion. There is also a great amount of Greek and Coptic Christian graffiti on the walls, as it also used to be a Coptic Christian dwelling.
The paintings along the ceiling and walls were vibrant, intriguing, and well preserved. Before entering our guide informed us to look up at the ceilings of the royal burial chamber, which featured a beautiful fresco of the Goddess Nut- it was stunning!
Getting to Luxor
Depending on how much time you have or your traveling style, there are may options for travel into Luxor. For my friends and I, we arrived by a cruise boat along the Nile River from Aswan, which I highly recommend.
The city of Luxor is over 400 miles from Cairo and the quickest way to get there is by plane. The flight is just one hour and is very convenient. There is also a long overnight train and many big bus tours that leave from Cairo.
More than likely if you are visiting Aswan or Luxor for the temples, you will be hiring a private guide to take you there. It is very important that you hire an official guide in Egypt to take you to the sites, and just not someone on the sidewalk asking you if you want to take a city tour.
On our trip to Aswan and Luxor, plus our cruise along the Nile River, we chose Egypt Gift Tours who I highly recommend. They had professionally coordinated us on private tours for all of our trips from Aswan to Luxor.
The gladdest part in human life is a departure to unknown lands…– Sir Richard Burton
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