After its discovery in the late 1940s and after several rounds of excavations and restorations since then, the ancient Avenue of the Sphinxes finally reopened to the public following a grandiose celebration on November 23, 2021 to mark the occasion. The 2.7-kilometer-long road, originally lined with hundreds of rams head sphinx statues on both sides stretching its entire length, connects the Temple of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor, two of the most important centers of worship in the ancient capital of Thebes.
The road was originally constructed as a venue for the annual Opet Festival celebrations and to serve a role in other special occasions. The major share of its construction was done during the rule of King Nectanebo I, originator of the 30th Dynasty, while the Opet Festival celebrations themselves date as far back as the 18th Dynasty.
The unveiling saw Egypt put on yet another grand show that was broadcast around the world, with the re-enactment of the ancient Opet Festival being the highlight of the night. The lavish multi-part ceremony, which was attended in person by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as well as numerous other ministers, government officials, dignitaries, and celebrities, included various live televised events at historic sites across Luxor’s eastern and western banks, with a grand march along the avenue, a parade of carriages, pharaonic dance performances, and an Egyptian symphony orchestra being among the main highlights. It also included a parade of 400 young performers in pharaonic costumes and chariots.
Egypt has suffered a gigantic dip in tourism revenue – from $13.03 billion in 2019 to $4 billion in 2020 – as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the country’s tourism-dependent economy.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Egypt has high hopes that the worldwide publicity it receives from investing in and hosting these grandiose ceremonies and events will help re-stimulate interest in travel to Egypt over the next year as fear of travel stemming from the global Covid-19 pandemic begins to fade.