woensdag 17 maart 2010

Luxor verandert

                                                             Police station, Jamboree etc have gone.

Mosque, Mina Palace and government buildings are going.
Parts of the centre of Luxor are in a bit of a mess at the moment! Since October 2005 the town has been undergoing some massive changes. The changes are part of the grand plan of Dr. Samir Farag, president of the Supreme Council of Luxor. The plan is to restore the ancient link between Luxor and Karnak temples, to clear the skyline along both banks, so that ancient monuments are easily visible across the river and to improve the road network.

Linking Luxor and Karnak Temples
A controversial part of the plan is to restore the 3km long road connecting Luxor with Karnak. The road is clearing a 60 meter wide open space between the temples, involving the demolition of huge numbers of buildings, mostly residential but also including the town centre police station and even a mosque.

Paving on the station side of Luxor temple

Progress is very evident. When you come from the airport you can see part of the new causeway as you go over a bridge coming into Luxor town. There are also open areas, especially to the north of the temple, where buildings have been cleared. The area on the station side of the temple itself is much tidier and largely paved, including a large decoratively paved area between the temple and the road to the station.

Clearing the vista

Buildings have already been cleared on the Nile side of Karnak temple, so the temple is visible from the west bank and Hatshepsut's temple is visible from Karnak. This has opened up the view of Karnak temple from the road along the Nile.
Buildings have been demolished in front of Luxor Temple, including the pair of old colonial style government buildings, the Mina Palace Hotel, the small shops and the old Jamboree restaurant.

Station Road (see the central Luxor map) has been widened. Shops have been demolished along its length and some new ones built further back from the road's edge. From the station there is now a clear view to the temple complex. The station itself has been redeveloped. The kiosk near McDonald's and the clock tower in the roundabout near the entrance to the Old Market have gone. The roundabout has been rebuilt and paved.

The road to the east of the station, once a busy, narrow road, has been doubled in width and is now a dual carriageway.

New Winter Palace has gone.
The front block of the New Winter Palace has been demolished. The rear (Pavilion) block is still open and is accessed via the Old Winter Palace. The grounds at the back are all in use as normal. The New Winter Palace is being replaced with a low-rise hotel
New Coptic Church

In contrast to the clearance of the skyline along the edge of the Nile, a new double-bell-tower coptic christian church is being built near the railway crossing to the north of the station, which can easily be seen from many parts of the east and west banks. Apparently the church is being funded by the owners of two hotels, including the owner of the Sonesta.

The old tourist shops near the temple and restaurants, such as Amoun's, have moved to the new 3 storey Savoy centre near the Mercure hotel, which has also replaced the arcade that used to be there.

Old Market Street has been dug up and arches and trellises have been erected. Cars, horse carriages and other vehicles are no longer allowed through Old Market Street. At the southern entrance to Old Market Street (the tourist end) an arch announcing the market has been built. The market is still quieter than the old one, partly because caleche drivers can no longer drive through, so they try to convince tourists that the market is closed and to go to a 'local market' instead. The market is not closed - ignore anyone who says it is.


There is no change (yet) on the East Bank side, but the National Ferry terminal on the West Bank is being redeveloped and will be moved slightly. The taxi car park is being converted into a park. New National Ferry boats are operating.


There is a plan to build a marina on the West Bank.


Work is going on elsewhere in the town as well, so getting around can be very hazardous in places. Roads are not closed when work is going on. Cars vie with steam rollers for space on the road even whilst under construction.

News about hotels

The Marhaba shopping centre, next to the site of the New Winter Palace is due to be demolished. It is supposed to be joined with the site of the (now demolished) New Winter Palace. A new lower-rise hotel, possibly run by the Four Seasons group, will be built there.

Between the Sonesta and the Lotus hotels, the old public swimming pool is being demolished. The land is owned by the Sonesta.

The Mercure Inn was operated by Swiss Inn for a while, but it has now closed, pending redevelopment.

The Hilton hotel, which had been closed since October 2005, has reopened after substantial refurbishment. It is positioned at the luxury end of the hotel market with better Nile views, separate group booking-in arrangements, a lounge apart from the reception, a separate spa area and very high prices.

The enlargement of the Sonesta hotel, by building upwards, has been going on for ages and is still not complete. The hotel has remained open throughout. Some people have said the building work is not a problem, others have complained that it is a nuisance and have asked to be moved.

The Sheraton is being renovated a section at a time whilst the remainder of the hotel remains occupied.


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