Luxor is a city on the Nile 300 miles south of Cairo. It is the site of the ancient city of Thebes and the gateway for tourists visiting the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, and the Karnak and Luxor temples, the greatest and most spectacular monuments of ancient Egypt. The 400,000 inhabitants of this modern city depend heavily on tourism, but it is also an agricultural center of Egypt, producing most of Egypt’s sugar.
Thebes was the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom. The importance of the city started as early as the 11th Dynasty renowned for its high social status and luxury, but also as a center for wisdom, art and religious and political supremacy. From the 18th through the 20th Dynasties, the city was the major religious and military capital of Egypt.
Throughout ancient times, Luxor was a melting pot of peoples from as far away as Turkey and Crete. The city was vibrant for more than a thousand years. During that millennia the actual capital of Egypt changed several times, but Thebes remained the cultural and religious center throughout the entire time.
Its glorious reign as possibly the most significant city on earth ended when it was sacked by an Assyrian emperor in the 7th century BC. Shortly thereafter it fell into obscurity, briefly renewed by Alexander the Great in the 4th century AD, but essentially cloaked in the desert until 18th century European explorers rediscovered its treasures.
Today the modern city includes some of the finest hotels and resorts found in Egypt, a modern airport with frequent flights to Cairo, and is the railhead for Egypt’s main north-south rail line.