Avenue of the Sphinxes: Egypt reopens road connecting Luxor and Karnak

(CNN) – Egypt celebrated, on Thursday evening, the reopening of the ancient Sphinx Street in Luxor, a 2.7-kilometre (1.7 mi) road that connects two temple complexes in the area, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple.

The event included the reactivation of the Opet Festival, an ancient annual celebration and carnival held by Egyptian dynasties in the presence of kings to celebrate the Nile River and fertility.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attended the festivities, which included a march, an orchestra, and dancers in pharaonic costumes displaying ancient practices during the Opet Festival.

Visitors walk in front of statues of ancient Egyptian New Kingdom pharaoh Ramses II at night.

Khaled Desouky/AFP/Getty Images

The road, also known as the Road of Rams, dates back 3,400 years, Reuters reports. However, it was first discovered in the late 1940s, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

The ministry said the route was widened through various Egyptian dynasties over hundreds of years and annexes were added, including baths, laundries, a pottery-making area and a storeroom for wine vessels.

The site has since undergone decades of excavation and restoration, and today it houses hundreds of traditional sphinxes and ram-headed statues lining its path.

A view of the human-headed Sphinx along the 2,700-meter road leading from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple.

A view of the human-headed Sphinx along the 2,700-meter road leading from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple.

Khaled Desouky/AFP/Getty Images

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities described the site as “the largest open museum in the world,” and said in a statement that the aim of the project is to promote tourism in Luxor and highlight its various archaeological components.

Tourism is an important source of jobs and revenue for Egypt, and the industry has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Reuters, the country’s tourism revenue fell to about $4 billion in 2020, down from $13 billion in 2019.

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