Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is called Biban El-Muluk in Arabic, a name meaning The Gates of the Kings, clearly a reference to the entrances of numerous tombs that, even in ancient times, could be seen in the mountainsides. The valley forms a deep rift in the limestone mass of the mountain of Thebes.
The Valley of the Kings is where the modern myth of Egypt began with Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, complete with all of the treasures with which he had been buried, in 1922. The fame of that discover ushered in a new era of Egyptian tourism as the treasures of Tutankhamun toured the world and generated new, widespread interest in the history of Ancient Egypt. The valley is not very impressive at first glance.

It is not much more than a sun-blasted gorge of generic, red rock, but hidden underneath the earth are the tombs of nearly 70 pharaohs. Excavation is ongoing in some of them, but many are open to visitors on a rotating schedule to allow for restoration. Seeing the ornate decorations on the walls of these tombs and imagining the painstaking process necessary to create them is well worth the visit even in the hottest months.
The richness of the finds here in the Valley of the Kings has kept archeologists busy for nearly two centuries. If all of the tombs here where open to visitors it would be nearly impossible to actually make it to all of them, but thankfully the possibility of such a huge task is eliminated for you.

The tourism authorities only open a few of the tombs at a time in order to allow for a continual cycle of upkeep and restoration. Regardless, there are certain to be several impressive tombs open at any one time. Be careful to heed the advice of your guide or guidebook on which ones to enter.

The most famous tombs are not necessarily the most impressive and a ticket to the Valley of the Kings only allows you to enter three tombs. A separate ticket is required to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb although you may find it a disappointing sight, especially given the extra cost.

Remember that Tutankhamun was a relatively minor pharaoh, made famous by the fact that his tomb is the only one the valley that was discovered with it contents still inside, not by the grandeur of his tomb relative to the others. Those contents are now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Make sure that you remember to buy tickets at the West Bank ticket office before arriving at the Valley of the Kings. Tickets for all sites on the west bank must be purchases at this office and cannot be purchases on location at any of the sites.
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