When you travel through Egypt, it is really exciting to see ancient history popping up all over the country’s landscape. Especially when you’re not expecting it. I knew Luxor was full of tombs and temples, which is the reason I traveled to this town in upper Egypt earlier this month. Just minutes after arriving, on my ride from the airport to the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, I spotted to my left what appeared to be several dozen sphinxes lining both sides of a dirt road. Could I be seeing correctly? Were these actually ancient sphinxes? In Luxor, Egypt, of course they were.
Once I arrived at the hotel, the general manager and revenue manager, Christoph and Mohamed, introduced me to Osama, the head of the Egyptian Tourist Authority in Luxor. What I had seen, Osama explained, is called the Avenue of the Sphinxes, which dates back to Egypt’s 18th Dynasty during the New Kingdom.
Unfortunately, hundreds of years ago people didn’t realize the historical value of these ancient sphinxes and built over them. It wasn’t until the the mid 20th Century that people awoke to the errors of their ancestors’ ways and began tearing down the 225 buildings and two mosques that were hiding these ancient monuments. Some of the 1,200 sphinxes unfortunately were quite damaged and others completely destroyed in the construction and deconstruction processes. Most are still in very good condition, though, lining both sides of a road which extends for two kilometers 700 meters from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple.
While visiting Luxor Temple, I was able to walk for several minutes along a portion of the as-yet unopened road. You don’t have to be satisfied with walking just a portion, though. The Avenue of the Sphinxes is officially opening in March, although no specific date has yet been set. This ancient road is such an incredible sight, I think it’s going to be one of Luxor’s biggest draws.