Thebes (place) (1 of 3)
There's nothing like the grandeur of ancient Thebes. Florence Nightingale called it 'the deathbed of the world' and likened it to the writings of Shakespeare. It's one of the few places in the world that deserves to be called unforgettable. Thebes's wealth and power was legendary in antiquity, its god Amun feared across the Mediterranean and Asia. By the late 18th century, its legend lured travellers from Europe. Since then, fuelled by tales of treasure and pharaoh's curses, huge numbers have made pilgrimages here.
Bright green sugarcane fields along irrigation canals and clusters of colourful houses, all against the background of the desert and the Theban hills. Huge sandstone blocks lying in the middle of fields, gaping black holes in the rocks and giant sandstone forms on the edge of the cultivation below. Magnificent memorial temples were built on the flood plains here, where the illusion of the pharaoh's immortality could be perpetuated by the devotions of his priests and subjects, while his body and worldly wealth, and the bodies of his wives and children, were laid in splendidly decorated hidden tombs excavated in the hills.