It goes without saying that there are many famous sites and temples to visit in Luxor and all are very well documented but here are a few less well known places that are well worth a visit.
Hassan Fathy Village
Designed by a pioneer of sustainable architecture, Hassan Fathy, the village of New Gourna in Luxor, was commissioned by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities in 1945 with the aim of using only local materials. The intention was to relocate people living close to the ancient sites to curtail looting and damage. Opposition to the relocation prevented the village’s completion and almost half the original buildings have since been lost. In 2010 the village was placed on the World Monuments Watch and is now a settlement for local villagers and is open to the public.
St. Tawdros Monastery
The monastery was originally built by St. Helena but was demolished in the 11th century. Some time later it was rebuilt using blocks recycled from the Pharaonic temples. The monastery is dedicated to St. Tawdros who having refused to worship Apollo was nailed to a tree and the church still celebrates his martyrdom each year. You can visit the monastery which is located in the desert south of the Valley of the Queens close to Madinet Habu and buy some honey or wine from the nuns who live there.
Garagos, a Jesuit priest came to this Egyptian village around 150 years ago where he founded a chapel, school and hospital which are still in operation today. This priest then invited a French potter to the village to teach the art of pottery which profoundly changed the lives of the people living there. The village is now named Garagos after this priest and here you can find beautiful ceramics created from the fine clay of the Aswan region. You can take a tour through the pottery and watch the processes from raw material to moldable substance, to the creation of a piece of pottery on the wheel. Afterwards you can take a look at both the church and the school.
There are many birds to be seen in Luxor and many visit Djorff Palace gardens in the early morning. The most common sights are the hoopoe, barn swallows, and little egrets. Pied kingfishers and various species of the purple swamp hen as well as tufted ducks and the Egyptian goose can all be spotted with a little patience.
You might be lucky and see an Egyptian vulture often referred to as pharaoh’s chicken or a black winged stilt, which now although an endangered species can still be found on the banks of the Nile.
Unfortunately the ibis has disappeared from Egypt and the last recorded sighting was back in 1864. There is now some interest in reintroducing this hugely significant bird back into the country.
Life and Traditions on the West Bank
Walk or cycle round the villages located close to the hotel and see Egyptian rural life at first hand. Typical features of a local Egyptian village are a mosque, a school and possibly a pigeon cote and a few shops. Most of the people in the villages engage in agriculture and farmers herding sheep and cattle or ploughing the fields is a common sight. Stop for a glass of sugar cane juice and watch the women baking the traditional sun bread at the roadside or wander past the banana plantations and cornfields or simply take a stroll along the palm fringed banks of the Nile.
A small dusty antique shop located close to our boat stop. The place is dark and dusty but if you look hard you can find some real treasures from a bygone era.
Located close to the passport office this is the oldest book shop in Luxor, dating back to 1909. Here you will find everything from Agatha Christie to Nagiuib Mahfouz as well as a large selection of academic texts and general interest books on Egypt, cooking, bird watching etc. The owners are happy to offer you a mint tea while you browse through their extensive collection of books and pictures.
Here you can find a good choice of beautiful handcraft, scarves, carpets and much more all exquisitely displayed. The very friendly owner offers great hospitality and the peace for you to browse making shopping here a real pleasure.