Thebes and Luxor, Egypt

Thebes was the capital of the ancient Egyptian empire at its heyday. The modern town of Luxor, 675 km south of Cairo, occupies part of the site. Ancient Thebes was about six miles square; the main part of the city was situated along the Nile's east bank, where the Temples of Karnak and Luxor are; the west bank had "the city of the dead"-- an area containing the Egyptian kings' mortuary temples and the houses of those priests, soldiers, craftsmen, and laborers devoted to their service (one of their villages was at Deir al-Medina).

Although there are a number of tombs dating from the 3rd millennium BCE on the west bank, the earliest monuments that have survived at Thebes itself date from the 11th dynasty (2081-1939 BCE), when Thebes became the royal capital of Egypt and was called Nowe, or Nuwe ("City [of Amon]"), after its chief god. The height of Theban prosperity was reached in the 14th century BCE during the reign of pharaoh Amenhotep III. Apparently, the Greek name Thebes (Thebai) was derived from Ta-ope, the ancient Egyptian name for Luxor.

Luxor Temple

Built by pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC)

Main entrance

On the eastern bank of the Nile.

Temples of Karnak

A complex of sancturies, kiosks, pylons and obelisks, all dedicated to the Theban gods and the greater glory of Egypt's pharaohs.

Avenue of the Sphinxes

Avenue of ram-headed sphinxes

Great Hypostyle Hall

Built by Seti I, it has 134 towering papyrus shaped stone pillars.

Obelisk of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut raised two obelisks to the glory of her 'father' Amun.


The hypostyle hall was once brightly painted and roofed.

Hypostyle Hall pillar detail

Hieroglyphs on the stone pillars.

Great Festival Hall

Built by Tuthmosis III

Side view

Side view of the Inner temple

Village of Gurna

The village of Gurna near the Valley of the Kings on the west bank


Raised by Ramses II to his own glory.

Tomb of Merenptah

Tomb dug deep into the mountains

Temple of Hatshepsut

Built by the only woman pharaoh of Egypt to her own glory. She ruled for 20 years.

Tomb chamber

The tomb chamber. Much damaged but some of the original paintings are still visible.


Laborers pulling stones for restoration work

Deir al-Medina

Deir al-Medina (Monastery of the town), named after a temple here that was later occupied by Christian monks.

Relief painting

Relief painting on a wall of Deir al-Medina

Ancient worker's village

At least 70 houses of workers have been excavated and three largely intact non-royal tombs on site are open to the public.

Another view

This is where the workers who built the tombs in the Valley of the Kings lived and died.

Temple of Hatshepsut

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Keeping watch

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