The wonders of Luxor are alluded to by its reputation as the “world’s greatest open air museum”, but the beauty of this city really does need to be seen to be believed.

Balloon over Luxor

Luxor, Egyptlaurenz

Luxor’s location in Upper Egypt ensures scorching sunshine and not enough rain to mention, so cold weather will never present a barrier to sightseeing. Here is a quick guide to why Luxor is the perfect holiday destination:

The Temples of Karnak certainly earn their place at the top of any list of Luxor’s hotspots: the main section, known as The Temple of Amun, is the biggest religious building ever constructed. The rest of Karnak consists of a multitude of buildings, from pylons to obelisks to sanctuaries, all dedicated to the Theban gods and the pharaohs (Lonely Planet November 12th, 2010).

Perhaps the most striking feature of this historical site is its proportion; it stretches out over two square kilometres, leaving visitors astounded by the craftsmanship of Karnak’s 12th dynasty constructors.

The Valley of the Kings, previously known as the Great Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaoh, or – slightly catchier – the Place of Truth, contains an array of 63 royal tombs dating from 1550-1296 BC (Lonely Planet). These resting pharaohs from the New Kingdom period chose to be buried in the hills west of Luxor to be close their dynasty’s roots, unlike the Old Kingdom’s Pharaohs who wished to be buried in the Pyramids of Giza and the Nile Delta (National Geographic).

Perhaps the most famous body laid to rest in the Valley of the Kings is that of Tutankhamun, whose intact tomb was discovered in 1922 – although this is in fact among the least impressive of all the Valley’s tombs.

To gain a greater insight into what went on inside these many crypts, a trip to the petite but information-packed Mummification Museum is recommended. It was believed that the body must be preserved so that a person can enter the afterlife, and this museum shows exactly how the preservation was carried out.  Visitors can examine the tools used during the process, as well as animal examples of mummified bodies. There is even a vertical section of a human body for those who are truly dedicated to learning about the ways of the ancient Egyptians.