Classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Kings is a huge necropolis of ancient Egypt located very close to the city of Luxor. There were buried most of the pharaohs of the so-called New Empire (the XVIII, XIX and XX dynasties, which ruled between 1550 BC and 1070 BC), as well as many queens, nobles, princes and many animals, all with their due mummification process.

Introduction

The pharaoh Thutmose I inaugurated this necropolis in 1500 B.C. with a very specific construction method that would make the Valley of the Kings a very peculiar site. The ruler ordered Inani, the royal architect at the time, that the construction of his tomb be done in the utmost secrecy, only the two of them and the slaves who participated in the work would know its location.

The reason? Thutmose I feared looting in case of occupation and as they believed fervently in the existence in the afterlife and planned to bury his entire family there, it was imperative that the tombs were kept in the best possible conditions and well protected from possible attackers. In such a way that not only the family of Thutmosis was buried there but also the successive dynasties of the New Empire for about 400 years, always maintaining the secrecy of its location. This was fundamental for the archaeological discoveries of later centuries.

In the eastern part, the Valley of the Kings houses most of the tombs, of which more than 60 have been discovered so far, all carved into the rocks, which ensured their shelter and protection from invaders. The most visited by tourists are the tombs of Thutmose I, Ramesses VI, Thutmose III, Mrenptah and Amenhotep II, but the most famous is that of Tutankhamun, for many reasons, but mainly because it was the only one found intact.The site is safe from looters and with all the treasures inside, and because of the myth surrounding a supposed curse.

Everything that was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, including the mummy of the pharaoh, can be visited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In the Valley of the Kings only the empty tomb remains, but it can be visited.

The myth of the curse of Tutankhamun

In the 1920s, Egyptologist Howard Carter came across the name of an unknown pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, who had ruled for a very short time due to an untimely death. The aristocrat Lord Carnarvon financed the search for his tomb, which was believed to be in the Valley of the Kings and which, Carter assumed, would be intact. He was not wrong: on November 26, 1922, a team of archaeologists and part of Lord Carnarvon’s family opened a hole in the top of the tomb door and the light of a candle uncovered Tutankhamun’s treasures.

All the people who witnessed this discovery soon died of causes that were mysterious in those years. These deaths were immediately associated with a supposed curse of the pharaohs, which gave rise to dozens of legends that were captured in books and films. But there is a scientific explanation as to why everyone was affected, mostly with respiratory and pulmonary insufficiencies.

For centuries, decaying human matter, food, plants and other living things were kept in a small hermetically sealed space, preserving countless bacteria and viruses that, once opened, spread and affected people nearby. That is the explanation for the health complications of archaeologists and aristocrats who were never victims of any pharaonic curse.

How to get to the Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is located on the west bank of the Nile River, very close to the city of Luxor. You can go by train from this city, a short 25 km trip, in case you have your hotel in Luxor. Another option is to take the night train from Cairo or a direct 2-hour flight and, upon arrival in Luxor, you can visit the Valley of the Kings on another train or hire a guided tour service that also includes transportation.

Schedules

The Valley of the Kings can be visited from Monday to Sunday from 6 am to 4 pm.

Prices of the visit to the Valley of the Kings

If you are traveling on your own, a good option to visit the Valley of the Kings is to rent a cab or a private car for a whole morning, not only to take you to this area but also to visit other places of interest in Luxor since everything is very close. It is always advisable to negotiate the rate, of course in advance, but a fair price is between 90 EGP and 120 EGP.

The basic ticket without guide gives you access to visit three tombs of your choice (not including Tutankhamun’s tomb, which must be paid separately) and costs 160 EGP for adults and 80 EGP for accredited students. We recommend hiring a guide service to make the most of your visit, either in advance at your travel agency or when you arrive in Luxor.

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