New to the Middle East? Start off in Luxor

The Middle East fascinates all of us. It also scared us to some degree. However, Luxor is a must if you want to have a quintessential experience of very ancient history.

Since this is the first post about the Middle East, I will start off by saying that the region is far different from what the traditional westerner would imagine. There are no kamikaze attacks on every street corner and there is definitely not an ongoing war; well, conflicts are still recurrent, but what I mean is that they do not characterize the region entirely. The Middle East is a mystical land that combines the old and the new, to concretize in a mysterious and beautiful world. As the final general specification, if you have the time and the resources, you should spend at least a month here – you will have lots to see.

These being said, we started our visit to the Middle East in Egypt (no, don’t tell me Egypt is Africa, because it is not) and the first thing we wanted to see was the city of Luxor (الأقصر al-Uqṣur; do not ask me how it’s pronounced). In the center of the city lay the ruins of the Luxor and Karnas Temples. Both of the two grandiose temples host other constructions within their walls. While the Luxor Temple was build to serve the purpose of hosting a great festival, the Karnas Temple is in fact an entire village, spread out across 120 hectares.

The next things you should see lay across the Nile. They are the impressive Valley of Kings (Wadi el-Muluk) and Valley of Queens (Biban Al-Harim). They represent the burial tombs of the ancient pharos, and their wives and children. The Valley of Kings was traditionally called The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes. Visiting the valleys is often difficult, due to the restrictions – only 150 visitors are allowed per day, only 10 minutes spent in a tomb, no talking and no picture taking within the tombs. It is however all worth it. If you had to choose just two tombs to visit, pick the Tutankhamun tomb in the Valley of Kings and the Nefertari tomb in the Valley of Queens.