East Bank

Make sure your phone is fully charged because the pictures will be epic! First up, a morning or afternoon on the East Bank touring the Karnak Temple Complex and Luxor Temple, part of the wider area of ancient Thebes and one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Egypt. You’ll be able to complete a thorough exploration of both, which are situated 2.5 km from each other, in approximately 4–5 hours.

Karnak Temple Complex

Considered ancient Egypt’s most sacred site, the temples of Karnak are a multi-generational effort in temple building, combining over 2,000 years of diverse craftsmanship and creative flourish. Imagine the result when 30 different pharaohs throw their personalities into one space in a bid for immortality.

Originally built as a cult temple dedicated to the god Amun and his family, the Karnak Temple Complex expanded over centuries to become one of the largest and most well-preserved religious sites of the ancient world, spanning more than 100 ha.

Don’t Miss

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The Great Hypostyle Hall

With its 134 papyrus columns, including a central row of 12 columns towering 20 m tall, where kings were coronated and ritualistic ceremonies were performed proving their right to rule.

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The Sacred Lake

The panoramic view of Karnak from the Sacred Lake that was used for special rituals.

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The Sacred Scarab

Which is located in front of the Sacred Lake and erected by order of Amenhotep III.

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The White and Red Chapels

Inside Karnak’s open-air museum.

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The Karnak Sound and Light Show

Immerse yourself in a feast for the senses! See, feel, and hear the Karnak Temple come to life in an unmatched spectacle. The pounding epic music pairs with a poetic retelling of the glory of Thebes and its great pharaohs as you walk through the temple. You won’t get lost in translation because the show is available in over a dozen languages.

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Thutmose III’s so-called “Festival Hall,” the Akhmenu

Where the hidden sanctuary of the god Amun was located and whose main hall features unusual columns, perhaps shaped like the poles of Thutmose III’s tent while he was on campaign. Don’t miss the chamber called the Botanical Garden, whose walls the king decorated with depictions of the exotic plants, birds, and animals that he encountered on his many Syrian campaigns.

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The towering obelisks of Hatshepsut and her father Thutmose I

Marvel at how these monolithic monuments were quarried, transported, and erected.


Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved, and oldest temples in Luxor. The ancient Egyptians believed that it was “the Place of the First Occasion” or “Creation,” marking the spot where the god Amun-Ra was born, and the whole world with him, at the beginning of time.

Unlike other temples, Luxor Temple wasn't built solely for worshiping a god; it was also a place to renew the powers of the ruling king. Pharaohs would arrive to Luxor Temple from Karnak in the annual Opet Festival procession to restore their powers and reaffirm their royal status.

While the core of the temple and the court fronting it were built by Amenhotep III, Ramesses II had a huge impact on the design as it appears today, adding the monumental pylon at the front carved with inscriptions telling the tale of his military triumphs. Its doorway is flanked by two towering obelisks (one of which is still in place) and enormous statues of Ramesses in various stances. More colossal statues of this great king adorn the courtyard he built just behind the pylon.

Luxor Temple isn’t just a holy site that was meaningful to the ancient Egyptians. In the early 4th century, one chamber was repurposed for the imperial Roman cult, a church was built in Ramesses II’s court in the 6th century, and a mosque was later erected to commemorate the Muslim scholar Abu al-Haggag.

Don’t Miss

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The Sphinx Avenue

The newly reopened 3,000-year-old Sphinx Avenue that connects Karnak with Luxor Temple was used in the past for the Opet Festival, one of the most important festivals of the ancient Egyptian calendar

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Colonnade Hall

The enormous Colonnade Hall, a sacred site for processions and holy festivals like the Opet Festival.

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The Court of Amenhotep III

With its double row of papyrus bundle columns on three sides. This jaw-dropping space leads into a hypostyle hall, the chamber that was later converted into a sanctuary for the Roman imperial cult, and the chapel of Alexander the Great.

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Luxor Temple at night

Stop by for incredible pictures as the columns and statues light up and cast their shadows.


Museums

Karnak and Luxor Temples may be the crown jewels of the East Bank, but there are a couple of other places worth visiting. Stop by the Luxor Museum to see select artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Then prepare to be amazed by mummified cats and crocodiles at the Mummification Museum, which gives you a comprehensive look into the ritual and significance of the mummification process, including a closer look at the many ancient tools, objects, and equipment used to prepare bodies for the afterlife.


Traditional Markets

Looking for a keepsake from your unforgettable trip? Located across the street from Luxor Temple on the East Bank is the Luxor Market, or “the souq,” known for its alabaster, jewelry, traditional fabrics, and aromatic spices. Shopkeepers can often speak a dozen languages! Banter and accept their offer of a drink—it’s usually delicious!

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