Local Area

Luxor
Luxor is the modern name for Thebes, which came from “Al Oqsour" meaning “the city of palaces." The renowned Greek historian Homer described it as the city of a hundred gates. It has also been called the "world's greatest open-air museum." Luxor is home to the ruins of Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple, as well as the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens and other monuments on the West Bank of the Nile. Throughout its history, this city drew visitors from all over the world even in ancient times. Today, Luxor is a popular holiday destination. In addition to its own spectacular sights, Luxor offers an excellent base for touring upper Egypt and as a starting or finishing point for our Nile cruises.

Karnak Temple
Just 10 minutes from Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor by car (taxis are available front of the hotel).
One of the largest and most impressive of all the temple sites in Egypt, Karnak is the culmination of three main temples, several smaller enclosed temples, and a number of outer temples, and is the combined achievements of a great many generations of ancient builders. Although badly ruined, probably no site in Egypt is more impressive than Karnak. The vast complex was built and enlarged over a period of 1,300 years and stands on a site covering 247 acres of land.

Only one of the main areas is currently accessible for tourists and the general public. This is the "main" temple, which is by far the largest part and is known as the Temple of Amun.

The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Thirty different pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity and diversity, not seen elsewhere.

Luxor Temple
Just 5 minutes from Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor by car (taxis are available front of the hotel).
The name Luxor represents both the present-day metropolis that was ancient Thebes, and the temple on the eastern bank which adjoins the town. "Luxor" derives from the Arabic Al Oqsour, meaning "fortifications." That name in addition was adapted from the Latin castrum which referred to the Roman fort built around the temple in the later third century AD. The temple of Luxor has, since its inception, always been a sacred site. After Egypt's pagan period, a Christian church and monastery were located here, and after that, a mosque (13th century Mosque of Abu el-Haggag) was built that continues to be used today.

In ancient Egypt, the temple area now known as Luxor was called Ipt rsyt, the "southern sanctuary," referring to the holy of holies at the temple’s southern end, wherein the principal god, Amun "preeminent in his sanctuary," dwelt. Amun was a fertility god, and his statue was modeled on that of the similarly Min of Coptos. He also has strong connections to both Karnak and West Thebes.

Hatshepsut Temple
It is just 30 minutes from Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor by car (taxis are available front of the hotel).  One of the most characteristic temples in the whole of Egypt, due to its design and decorations. Hatshepsut Temple was built of limestone, not sandstone, like most of the other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period.

It is thought that Senimut, the genius architect who built this temple, was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighboring mortuary temple of the 12th Dynasty King, Neb-Hept-Re. The temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra.

In the 7th century AD, it was named after a Coptic monastery in the area, known as the “Northern monastery.” Today it is known as the Temple of El Deir El-Bahri, which means in Arabic, the “Temple of the Northern monastery.” There is a theory suggesting that the temple, in the early Christian period, was used as a Coptic monastery.

This unique temple reflects clear ideas about the serious conflict between Hatshepsut, and her nephew and son in law, Tuthmosis III. Many of her statues were destroyed, and the followers of Tuthmosis III damaged most of her Cartouches after the mysterious death of the queen.

Medinet Habu Temple
An hour from Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor by car (taxis are available front of the hotel).
Medinet Habu is the name commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, an important New Kingdom period structure in the location of the same name on the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.

The temple, some 150 meters long, is of orthodox design, and resembles closely the nearby mortuary temple of Ramesses II (the Ramesseum). The temple precinct measures approximately 700 ft (210 m) by 1,000 ft (300 m) and contains more than 75,350 sq ft (7,000 m2) of decorated wall. Its walls are relatively well preserved and is surrounded by a massive mud brick enclosure, which may have been fortified. The original entrance is through a fortified gate-house, known as a migdol, a common architectural feature of Asiatic fortresses of the time.

Just inside the enclosure, to the south, are chapels of Amenirdis I, Shepenupet II and Nitiqret, all of whom had the title of Divine Adoratrice of Amun.

In Coptic times, there was a church inside the temple structure, which has since been removed. Some of the carvings in the main wall of the temple have been altered by Coptic carvings.