Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt. Luxor has often been called the "world's greatest open air museum", with the ruins of the temple complex at Karnak, Luxor Temple, and the monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank of the Nile, including the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Luxor is an excellent base for touring Upper Egypt, and is a popular holiday destination, both in its own right and as a starting or finishing point for Nile cruises. It is the site of the ancient city of Thebes, and has a population of approximately 150,000.
Waset, as Luxor was then known, was for the ancient Egyptians of the 2nd and the 1st millennia BCE, "the city" par excellence. To its visitors, the town was almost the center of their known world. The palatial district, Deba — a name subsequently altered by Greek visitors into Thebai, whence Thebes — enjoyed an unprecedented high position of luxury, imperial authority, knowledge and wisdom, religious and political supremacy, artistic work and grandiose plans. Some of these plans never came to be true, like the golden obelisk of Hatshepsut.
Rising to political power only in the middle of the second millennium before Christ, Thebes became synonymous with extravagant wealth, probably collected by the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in their expeditions to the south in the vast land of Kush in the area of today's northern Sudan, and to the north in Canaan, Phoenicia, and Syria. Tuthmosis III was the first Pharaoh to reach the then faraway Euphrates in Mesopotamia. In those days, no other city in the world could match Luxor in military power or beauty.