LUXOR — West Bank

Most of the temples on the west side of the Nile were royal mortuary temples and it is essentially a place of death as it is where the pharaohs built their tombs in anticipation of the afterlife. It is best to view the West Bank in the cool of the morning as it can get very hot here, especially in the summer months.
From the tombs of Seti1 and Ramses 1 in the Valley of the Kings you can continue to walk southeast over the hills to Deir al-Bahri. There are clearly marked paths and it takes about 45 minutes to walk it. The landscape you will see along the way is almost lunar in appearance but in warmer weather you should start as early as possible before it gets too hot. You may be stopped by one of the many policemen that are stationed on these hills and they may insist on coming with you.
The tickets for the sights you will see in this area can be bought at the Antiquities Inspectorate ticket office which you find on the road to the Valley of the Kings near the Colossi of Memnon.
For ticket pricing for all the sights found in this area see the following website:http://touregypt.net/egyptmonumentpricing.htm

The sights found here are:
Colossi of Memnon
Temple of Hatshepsut
Assasif Tombs
Ramesseum
Deir al-Medina
Valley of the Queens
Medinat Habu

Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon
This huge pair of statues are all that is left of the largest complex built on the West Bank by Amenhotep 111 as his funerary temple. They are most likely the first monuments you will see when you arrive on the West Bank. They are the only visible remains of the immense temple complex built by Amenhotep 111 before you reach the ticket office for the West Bank sites.

Temple of Hatshepsut

Temple of Hatshepsut
The mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut rising out of the desert would have to be one of the most dramatically situated in the world. The temple built of limestone, not sandstone like most of the other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period was designed by the queen’s architect, Senenmut. It was built to commemorate Queen Hatshepsut’s achievements and to serve as a funerary temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra. There was once a tree lined avenue of sphinxes leading up to the temple but though you cannot see these any longer you can still see the ramps leading from terrace to terrace. The porticoes on the lowest terrace are out of proportion and colouring with the rest of the building. They were restored in 1906 to protect the famous reliefs depicting the transport of obelisks by barge to Karnak and the scenes of birds being caught in nets. The large central courtyard of the middle level has the best preserved reliefs which show the queen’s birth and in the portico to the left of the entrance there are reliefs showing the story of an expedition by way of the Red Sea to Punt to collect myrrh trees to make incense. In the Chapel of Anubis at the northern end of the colonnade on this level are reliefs showing Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis 111 in the presence of various gods. The face of Hatshepsut is often erased. In the Hathor chapel found at the other end of the colonnade there is an intact picture of Hatshepsut worshipping Hathor disguised as a cow. Along the front of the upper terrace, there is a line of large, gently smiling statues of the queen. In the colonnade behind, brightly painted reliefs decorate the walls. There is a pink granite doorway leading to the Sanctuary of Amun carved out of the cliff but you cannot go in here. Many of the statues found in this temple have been cleverly and patiently reconstructed from the thousands of smashed fragments found by the excavators — some are now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and others are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Tombs

Assasif Tombs
This group of tombs is found between the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Tombs of the Nobles. They date back to the 18th dynasty and are under excavation. These tombs portray scenes of everyday life.

Ramesseum

Ramesseum
Only about half of this large funerary temple of Ramses 11 dedicated to the god Amun is intact but it is still impressive. It is found about 1.5 km south of Hatshepsut’s temple. The main building consists of two courtyards with pylon entrances, and a hypostyle hall with surrounding annexes. The pylons which are some of the oldest examples of such structures are decorated with scenes of Ramses fighting the Hittites with arrows and standing in his chariot. The second courtyard is in better condition than the first and contains porticos with statues of Ramses tightly wrapped in a shroud with his arms crossed and holding his sceptres. The hypostyle hall has a well preserved ceiling in the centre. It leads to a room for the sacred barque (a ritual boat) and sanctuary. The rest of the complex includes a royal palace, a large number of mud-brick granaries and storerooms and a small temple dedicated to Ramses’ mother, Tuya and his wife, Nefertari. In front of the Ramesseum is the base of the statue of Ramses that once stood 17m high. It would have weighed more than 1,000 tons and was bought from Aswan in one piece. The statue fell into the second courtyard and the head and body are still there. Other broken pieces can be found in museums all over the world.

Traveller's Tip

The poet Shelly wrote his poem ‘Ozymamandias’ about the statue of Ramses 11 that originally stood at the front of the Ramesseum.
Deir al-Medina

Deir al-Medina
This small temple is found about a kilometre west of the Ramesseum on the way to the Valley of the Queens. This temple was built by Ptolemy 1V and V1 Philometor and Euergetes 11 between 221 and 116BC. It was dedicated to Hathor the goddess of death and Maat the goddess of truth. South of the temple are the remains of a village that was inhabited by the workmen who built and decorated the tombs found on the West Bank.

Valley of the Queens

Valley of the Queens
The Valley of the Queens is where the wives and children of the Pharaohs along with other members of the nobility were buried. Most of the 75 - 80 tombs found here were from the 18th and 19th dynasties. Many of the tombs are undecorated or incomplete and are little more than rock cellars. It is found near the Valley of the Kings and there is a footpath that leads here from Deir el-Medina.
Only a few of the tombs in this valley are open to the public and they include the following:

The Tomb of Nefertari (Tomb no 66)
Nefertari was the favourite wife of Ramses 11 and her tomb is considered to be one of the best in the West Bank. Unfortunately it is closed at this time and when it is open to the public only a certain number of people are allowed in each day. The tomb is painted with scenes of Nerfertari usually wearing a golden crown with two vulture feathers and clothed in a white, gossamer gown. Some of the highlights of this tomb are the side room with a painting showing Nerfertari worshipping the mummified body of Osiris and near the stairs to the burial chamber is another wonderful painting with Nefertarti offering milk to the goddess Hathor.

The Tomb of Khaemwese (Tomb no 44)
Khaemwese was one of Ramses 111’s sons and he died quite young. His tomb is filled with some beautiful and well-preserved paintings including scenes showing Khaemwese in the presence of gods and scenes from the Book of the Dead. Some of the scenes show Khaemwese with his father and some show him alone.

The Tomb of Amenhikhopeshef (Tomb no 55)
Amenhikhopeshef was another son of Ramesses III and he was only young when he died. This tomb was considered the finest in this valley until the tomb of Nerfertari was open to the public. In this tomb you will find well-preserved paintings of Amenhikhopeshef with his father and the gods including Thoth, Ptah and Anubis. An unusual display in this tomb is the mummified five-month old fetus that was found in the tomb by the excavators and it is the subject of much speculation.

Medinat Habu

Medinat Habu
Medinat Habu is found off the road on your right as you come back from the Valley of the Queens. This structure is second in size to Karnak and it is both a temple and a complex of temples dating from the New Kingdom. Medinat Habu was one of the earliest places in the Theban region to be associated with the worship of Amun. Hatshepsut and Tutmosis III built a small temple dedicated to the god, Amun next to the complex’s most famous building — the mortuary temple of Ramesses III. The original temple complex included storehouses, workshops, administrative offices and residences of priests and officials. The mud brick remains of this town can still be seen from the top of the site’s enclosure walls.
The site is entered through the Syrian Gate which is a large two-storey fortress-like building. The main temple is the great memorial temple of Ramesses III and it is the best preserved of all the mortuary temples in Thebes. The front of the temple is marked by a very well-preserved pylon with reliefs of the pharaoh and his victory over the Libyans. Left of the first courtyard are the remains of the Pharaoh’s Palace where the royal harem was found. The second courtyard contains colonnades and reliefs showing religious ceremonies.
Some of the other structures that you can see here are the memorial chapels of the Divine Adorers of Amun which are found just inside the walls and to the left of the gate. On the north side of the temple is the less well preserved memorial temple of King Horemheb and east of this are a number of tomb chapels made for high officials.

Traveller's Tip

This temple complex is a great place to spend a few hours with its lovely setting of mountains in the background and the village of Kom Lolah in front. Be sure to walk up the stairs found on the left as you walk through the main entrance for a wonderful view over this village.

There are several other ways to get to the West Bank but the easiest way is by taxi. You will find these in abundance on any street in Luxor. It is best to negotiate a price before you leave and make sure it includes getting you there and back as well as having the driver wait for you while you look around. The price will be somewhere in the region of 100 - 150LE for your trip, depending on how well you can bargain and how much time you want to spend there. Be prepared to spend quite a few hours here as there is a lot to see and the sites can become very crowded. It would probably be better to plan your visit over at least two days to see everything you want.
You can also take a public ferry from Luxor to the West Bank and then a taxi from the ferry stop to the places you want to go — there is an abundance of these to be found. You could also organise a tour through your hotel if doing it by ‘yourself’ doesn’t appeal.