Valley of the Kings
Travel to Valley of the Kings – Amazing Tombs of the Pharaohs
Descending the painted passageways leading deep underground into the tombs of the pharaohs is a highlight of any visit to Luxor. To date around 60 or so tombs have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings, the 3,500-year old necropolis of Egypt’s pharaoh, with many more believed to exist. Each one is different, many in an excellent state of preservation, their walls painted with scenes of Egyptian life and with colours almost as fresh today as they were the day they were painted.
The Valley of the Kings lies on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor, ancient Thebes. 3,500 years ago the valley was chosen as the resting place of Tuthmosis I in 1512 BCE and dozens of pharaoh’s followed him.
The remote valley was thought to keep the tombs safe from tomb-raiders, but this was not the case with almost all looted at some time in the past. The robbers took the items of value, leaving the walls undamaged and in many cases the tombs are in a remarkable state of preservation.
Usually a doorway in the shingle or rock of the valley wall leads down what would have been a stone path or steps into a passageway painted with scenes of everyday life, moments in the pharaoh’s reign or with scenes from the Book of the Dead. Off this passageway are separate rooms and galleries, again similarly decorated before you enter the final burial chamber and it’s ceiling of stars.
As a relatively minor royal Tutankhamun’s tomb is neither extensive or particularly grand, however the wealth of artefacts it contained repaid Carter’s perseverance in his search for it. Crammed with golden thrones, images, household objects and of course his sarcophagi the crypt reveals just what each of the tombs here must have been like at one time.
Around a dozen tombs are open at any one time with a rotation system being in place so that the humidity contained in visitors’ breath does not damage the wall paintings. An entrance ticket allows for entry to 3 tombs, with a separate entrance fee to explore Tutankhamun’s. Highlights, if open, include the tombs of Tuthmosis III, Merneptah, Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses III, though many others are just as noteworthy.
If accompanied by a local guide as recommended allow at least a half-day to see the site, a full-day being preferable. In this way the various aspects of the tombs you choose will be explained to you. Visiting alone will mean that less time will probably be required as you will be relying on a guide book for explanation.
Find a quiet spot in the shade and take a moment to look around at the valley. Nondescript entrances in shale and rock-cut doors lead to amazing underground galleries – sitting down for a second helps you appreciate the enormity of what the pharaohs achieved.
The Valley of the Kings can be reached by taxi, bicycle or, and by far the most fun way, on donkey-back in the relative cool of the early morning. Alternatively a driver and guide can be arranged with you travelling with the guide or with you meeting the guide at the site and you travelling there by donkey.
- Visit Tutankhamun’s tomb for a glimpse of where the treasure was found
- Ride a donkey to the Valley of the Kings – an early-morning treat and a different way of getting there
- Be amazed at the vibrant colours, still in place after thousands of years.