LUXOR, Egypt (Reuters) – A restored road connecting two ancient Egyptian temple complexes in Karnak and Luxor was unveiled on Thursday in a lavish ceremony aimed at raising the profile of one of Egypt’s top sights.

The procession to reopen the 2.7 km (1.7 mile) road included a re-enactment of the ancient Opet festival, where statues of Theban deities paraded annually during New Kingdom times to celebrate fertility and the flooding of the Nile.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi marched along the road at the start of the ceremony. Pharaonic floats and more than 400 young artists dressed in Pharaonic costumes marched along the avenue.

The 3,400-year-old road connecting the ancient centers of Karnak and Luxor, also known as the Route of the Rams or the Avenue of the Sphinxes, is lined with hundreds of human-headed sphinxes and rams, although at over the years many have been eroded or destroyed.

The road has undergone several restoration efforts since its discovery in 1949, and the last one started in 2017.

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Tourism is a crucial source of jobs and hard currency for Egypt, which has made a concerted effort to attract travelers left out by the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, 22 ancient royal mummies from Luxor and the neighboring Valley of the Kings were carried in procession. Egyptian mummies marched from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to the New National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

Egyptian tourism revenues have plunged to around $ 4 billion in 2020, from $ 13 billion in 2019.

(Reporting by Sarah El Safty; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Kevin Liffey)

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