Luxor has often been called the world’s greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world that know of. Actually, what most people think of as Luxor is really three different areas, consisting of the City of Luxor on the East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak just north of Luxor and Thebes, which the ancient Egyptians called Waset, which is on the west side of the Nile across from Luxor.
To say that the Luxor area is a major attraction for tourists in Egypt would be an understatement. It has been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism. Even in ancient times, during the late Dynasties of the Greek and Roman periods, the area drew tourists, and has been doing so ever since. Today Luxor is well equipped to accommodate tourists with many hotels and in general a tourist industry ready and willing to serve the people from many countries that descend on this area of the Nile Valley every year.
Within Luxor, there are only three main streets consisting of Sharia al-Mahatta, Sharia al-Karnak and the Corniche, next to the Nile. The street in front of the train station is Sharia al-Mahatta and runs away from the Nile where it meets the gardens of Luxor Temple. Sharia al-Karnak or Maabad al-Karnak which means Karnak Temple Street runs along the Nile from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple. However, Sharia al-Karnak is known as Sharia al-Markaz where it meets Sharia al-Mahatta street, and to the south around the temple it is known as Sharia al-Lokanda. Along this street one will find the colorful signs of restaurants and cafes, as well as bazaars where the usual variety of Egyptian souvenirs can be found. Of interest is the alabaster, which is plentiful along the west bank and milled not far from here. Also look for the clay pots used by the locals for cooking, which are more unusual.
Luxor today is a city of some 150,000 people and is governed by special statues that allow it more autonomy then other political areas of Egypt. One thing you might notice is that various government and other buildings confirm to an ancient building code. Particularly, the National bank of Egypt (located near the winter palace), the spa south of the police station, and the railway station are all designed to appear as pharonic constructs. All of this occurred after the Egyptian influence of the modern town resulting mostly from the mania that resulted from Howard Carter discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen. As one might think, the city has all the amenities tourists might expect, including a variety of hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.