By Michael Wood
Last updated 2011-02-17
Luxor is an attractive Egyptian town - with a wonderful view across the Nile to the pink cliffs of the Theban desert. Luxor Temple, with its 4,000 years of history, is right in the middle of town, and was built by two of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs - Amenhopis III, a magnificent patron of the arts whose 40-year reign was one of the peaks of Egyptian power, and Ramesses II, sometimes called the 'great builder'.
The temple was dedicated to Amun, the king of the gods. It survived as a temple under the Greeks and the Romans, and later became a Christian church - and now a Muslim mosque still nestles among its colonnades.
On the front of the entrance pylon of the temple, Ramesses II had carved the story of his great battle at Kadesh in Syria, against the Hittite empire, the battle which inaugurated the Egyptian empire in the Near East in the New Kingdom. He also had six huge statues of himself constructed in front of the pylon, along with two great obelisks - one of which was removed, and can now be seen in Paris.