Luxor is on the east bank of the Nile River, which is only about 500 meters wide at this point. The renowned Greek Philosopher, Homer, called it the city of a hundred gates because of its buildings and large gates. The city grew over the years, and the Arabs, impressed by its beautiful palaces and huge edifices, re-named it 'Luxor': City of Palaces.
The city of Luxor was formerly the location of the 4000 year old city Thebes (that is the name in Greek though in Egypt it was called Weset). Thebes was the capital city of Egypt during two of its flourishing periods, the Middle and the New Kingdom. As it was becoming a cultural and religious centre, the city became the place of monumental buildings.
Rising to political power only in the middle of the second millennium before Christ, Thebes became the synonym of extravagant wealth, probably collected by the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in their expeditions to the south in the vast land of Kush in the area of today's northern Sudan, and to the north in Canaan, Phoenicia, and Syria.
After Ramses III victory over the Sea Peoples, a very slow decay characterized Thebes in times of division of Egypt; even then, despite its limited political power, Thebes had an edge over all the rest: an immense past and a legendary, radiant name that only Babylon could claim to match.
Assurbanipal, King of Assyria, was the first and only to attack and destroy Thebes. He then acted friendly to Egypt and kicked out the Kushite Taharqa, who was put on the throne of Egypt by the priesthood of Thebes. Assurbanipal installed Psammetichus, the Libyan prince, who was his ally, at the throne of Egypt. Although Thebes was ruined, its importance remained. The ruins are a main attraction for tourists to the city today.
Luxor is a major destination for tourists. Today, one can walk through history; past statues with heads of gods and animals, beneath pillars carved with lotus buds and papyrus. There are plenty of decent hotels. The Ancient Egyptians liked to bury their dead on the west bank at the edge of the desert. The 'Necropolis', or City of the Dead, was vast, with temples as well as tombs. Most of the tombs and temples are still there. The temple of Luxor is close to the Nile and parallel with the riverbank. King Amenhotep III built this beautiful temple and dedicated it to Amon-Re, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons.
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