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MODERN LUXOR

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LUXOR RENOVATIONS - LUXOR TEMPLE AREA
Connie Tindale
 
When the installation of the new drainage system at Luxor Temple began in 2006 at first it appeared very alarming to the uninformed. The new system was vital to save the temple structure from irreparable damage from the rising level of ground water and to keep it safe for future generations to admire, but it seemed as though the visual cost would be high. First trenches were dug to take the drainage pipes and then a large tower was constructed which obscured a large part of the temple opposite the Luxor Hotel. Large red pipes led from the temple, went under the road and reappeared on the Corniche where they went across the paving, up and over a wall and then into the River Nile. There was no indication at that point that it was to be a temporary measure but thankfully it was.
DrainageLuxor temple drainage schemeLuxor Temple Drainage Scheme
 
Soon, amid thumps, bangs and the to-ing and fro-ing of diggers and large machinery the new 'tower' slowly sank into the ground and then completely disappeared from sight. The drainage pipes that marred the Corniche also disappeared underground. It was clear from the vast amount of water that the new pumps were shifting that the rescue mission had only been done in the nick of time. Water poured constantly into the Nile in an attempt to lower the level of water under the temple itself. Salts were rising with the ground water and the bottom layer of stone which supported the temple structure was disintegrating. Intense farming and constant irrigation of fields was inflicting more damage in decades than had been done in millennia.
 
drainage schemeDrainage pipesDrainage
 
The next phase of the renovations was to completely redesign the whole area to the east of the temple so that it could be seen clearly and recover the grandeur that it once had. The horrible 'Christmas Pudding' type roundabout that was covered in dead grass was removed completely and the sad task of tearing out the trees from the Park began. The trees can be clearly seen in the photos above and below. At the same time the renovation of Station Street was in progress and the two schemes became linked and enhanced each other. With the removal of the trees, not only could the temple be seen from the Station but the Theban Hills behind it could be clearly seen too.
 
Luxor TempleLuxor TempleLuxor temple
 
When the trees had all gone work could be done on levelling the area and laying the paving for the new piazza to create an open space where people could gather for recreation and to celebrate festivals. Once the paving was in place, areas were turfed and mature palm trees were brought it to enhance the area. The old roundabout became a lovely little island of colour surrounded by a circle of cobble-type tiles that made a fitting entrance to the newly renovated souk. The road was also widened to take the increased traffic that had been choking Luxor's roads.
Luxor temple areaLuxor Temple AreaLuxor Temple

 

The difference that the renovations made can be clearly seen in the photos above. The area is now a very popular meeting place and is often totally crowded with people during festival times such as the moulid of Abu el Haggag which takes place two weeks before Ramadan each year. Again there are differing opinions on whether this work should have been done or not as some mourn the loss of the old bazaars that crowded the temple, although I think that few would miss the old bus station which abutted the site, except for convenience.
 
karnak area
   
 
west bank