CAIRO: Archaeological sites in the west bank of Luxor, including burials at the Valley of the Kings, are now opened to the public at night for the first time ever, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a statement Saturday.
“The Ministry of Antiquities has agreed to open the archeological sites of the Valley of the Kings, Al-Deir al-Bahari, Ramesseum, and Luxor Temples from 6 am to 11 pm in summer, and from 6 am to 9 pm in winter,” The official spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, Rasha Azayzy said in a statement Friday.
Most of Egypt’s archaeological sites are open during the day from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with some including the Egyptian museum and Luxor temple closing at 7:00 p.m.
“The project aims at boosting the city’s tourism revenues and extending tourist activity hours, [currently restricted to daytime,] in order to accommodate nighttime visitors to the city,” said Damaty in a press conference held in Luxor Saturday.
Damaty had visited Luxor Saturday to inaugurate the completion of the West Bank Lighting Project carried out by the Engineering Consultant Group. He said the project was adopted “in order to avoid high daytime temperatures.”
For his part, Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr said that opening the archaeological sites in Luxor’s western mainland for tourists at night “stresses stability and security in Luxor and Egypt in general and will increase the flow of tourists during the summer season,” according to the Egyptian State Information Service.
The west bank of Luxor is the house of some of Egypt’s most significant archaeological sites, including the tomb and mummy of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, the best preserved tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, along with mortuary temples of several Pharaohs.
“We have been always calling on the Antiquities Ministry to open the west bank sites at night or at least extend their working hours so that tourists who stay a short time in Luxor can make a tour to the east bank during the day and another to the west bank during the night,” Chairman of Wings Tours Atef al-Waseef told The Cairo Post in April.
The new opening hours will help “diversifying the itineraries offered to the tourist visiting Luxor,” Waseef said.
In a phone call with The Cairo Post in April, Islam Seif, a local tour guide from Luxor has praised the decision describing it as “long-awaited.”
“During summer, the temperature ranges from 45-50 C [110-120F] during the day. Most of sites at the west bank are opened with no roofs and tourists find no shade while touring the sites, which makes them cut short their visit and go back to the air-conditioned bus,” Seif said.