In the mystical Valley of the Kings in Egypt lie the final resting places of numerous Egyptian rulers. The impressive pharaonic cemetery with its subterranean architecture and spectacular murals gives every visitor goose bumps!
The world famous Valley of the Kings is located in Luxor, Egypt, in West Thebes, opposite the Karnak Temple and is one of our top 10 sights of Egypt. Finds of hand axes and other stone tools indicate that the Wadi Biban el-Muluk, called in Arabic, was already inhabited by humans in the Paleolithic period over 2 million years ago.
To date, 64 tombs of pharaohs from the years 1500 to 1000 BC have been discovered. Around 1000 B.C., tomb robbers carried out targeted looting in search of gold and other treasures and stole many of the most likely riches. About a hundred years later in the 22nd Dynasty, the ruler of the time, Sheshonq I, decreed that the mummies be hidden in other tombs for their protection, which led to some confusion among modern-day researchers.
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PICTURES: Valley of the Kings
Most famous tombs in the Valley of the Kings
The first tomb in the Valley of the Kings was that of Thutmosis I. The mighty temple of his daughter Hatshepsut is located nearby behind a hill . Also she herself and her son Thutmosis III were buried in the Valley of the Kings.
One of the most famous is certainly the largely intact tomb of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun. It was discovered in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter and is still one of the most important finds in Egyptian history.
From Ramses I, the founder of the 19th dynasty, there is a tomb, but no mummy. The ruler Sethos I who followed him was buried here. His tomb is one of the largest and most beautiful, but has been closed for years for preservation reasons. Also considered one of the most beautiful tombs in the Valley of the Kings is that of Nefertari, the favorite wife of Ramses II. That of his sons, by the way, is titled the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings with 150 known chambers.
Ramses XI was the last ruler to have his tomb built there, but he did not allow himself to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. Tomb robbers were already up to mischief here and many tombs have already fallen victim to them.
Visit to the Valley of the Kings
A small streetcar takes visitors from the parking lot to the graves and lets them off at intervals of about 100 meters. It is not possible to visit all the tombs at once. To protect them from decay, they are closed to visitors at regular intervals. For the most important tombs (Sethos I, Tutankhamun and Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens) it is planned to make a copy for viewing.
Most of the finds from the tombs have been removed and can be admired, for example, in the National Museum in Cairo, now and then a stone sarcophagus is still present. But the ancient corridors and mystical pillared halls alone must be seen - they are covered all over with fantastically preserved murals in the colorful Egyptian pictorial script!
Sightseeing tips for the Valley of the Kings
- The entrance fee is valid for the visit of three tombs, for the tomb of Tutankhamun you have to pay extra. There you can see not very much more than in other tombs - wall paintings and a sarcophagus.
- Photography is allowed only outside the graves without purchasing the photo permit. Grave guards watch for compliance with the rules.
- Tours to the Valley of the Kings usually start before sunrise. Even if the temperature in the valley climbs up to 40 ° C, in the dark it can still be very cold! For safety, take a jacket with you!
- Souvenir sellers see easy prey in the tourist crowds and can easily be perceived as pushy.
- To avoid the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the tombs in peace, it is advisable to visit the less famous but equally spectacular tombs a little further away, such as the Eje or Ay tombs. You have to ask for maps for them separately.
Hatshepsut from bird's eye view
If you have time and are fit enough, you should climb the rocky hill and have a look down to the other side. The chance of an unforgettable view from above on the impressive temple of Hatshepsut you will not get again so fast!
Exploration and tourist development
The first Europeans came to the valley at the beginning of the 18th century and already correctly interpreted it as a burial place. At that time, some tombs were already completely or at least partially open (and robbed) since ancient times. The systematic opening and exploration of tombs began with Napoleon's Egypt expedition in the early 19th century and continues to this day.
What does KV 1 mean?
All localized tombs in Wadi Biban el-Muluk are given the designation KV for King's Valley and a number. This system was started by John Gardner Wilkinson in 1827, who at that time simply numbered each tomb he found by brush. Today, this cataloging is also used for tourism.
Although most of the tombs were looted by tomb raiders over the centuries, the final resting places of Egyptian rulers provided today's archaeologists with valuable insights into the period as well as some significant finds.