Compared to some of the casinos in Las Vegas, The Luxor is relatively new. Construction was started on the massive project in 1992, much more recent than some of the attractions nearby. With a design inspired by the great civilization of Egypt it is one of the largest hotels in the city, as well as the world. Just hearing the name leaves no doubt as to where the ideas that make up The Luxor came from. But not just the name is shared with the city of Luxor in Egypt.
A number of the statues that line the walkways around the hotel mimic their original influences. Several small-scale ram-headed criosphinxes lay alert on their stone beds beside the sidewalks in similar fashion to those found leading into the Temple of Luxor in Egypt. These statues represented the Ancient Egyptian god Amen, often portrayed with the head of a ram, and an important god in the theology of the area especially. The resemblance of the fakes in Las Vegas is quite close to the statues in Egypt, despite the fact that they weren’t carved from sandstone the way the real ones were. Even the poses of the criosphinxes with the smaller pharaohs standing beneath their chins match that of the real things.
Much more imposing than the criosphinxes though is the sign for the hotel. A great obelisk stands at the front of the structure, displaying the name for all to see. The massive sign is very unique for the area, drawing its shape straight from the obelisks that can be found all over Egypt. Similar structures stand at the Temples at Karnack, having been erected in honor of various pharaohs over the years. Obelisks in Egyptian culture were symbolic of the sun. Their shape was said to have come from a petrified sunbeam and were often carved from a single slab of stone. The obelisk sign at The Luxor casino is hardly a monolith like its influences, but it is enormous all the same.
As those familiar with The Luxor will know, a large portion of the walls and columns both inside and outside of the building are covered in pictures set straight into the “stone”. These pictures reflect Hieroglyphics, a system of writing used in Ancient Egypt. It was said that the ability to write was given to the Egyptians by the god of Knowledge, Thoth. During the time of their use, there were over 2,000 different pictures carved into the stone walls and columns. History was recorded this way, with each picture representing a different idea in much the same way a letter in the Roman alphabet represents a sound. Different pictures together expressed different ideas, and all pictures were things common to the Egyptian people. At the Luxor Hotel and Casino, hieroglyphics adorn nearly everything. Though they don’t tell any stories, they still evoke the feel of walking amongst the great historic structures of Ancient Egypt.
Standing quite prevalently above the entrance to the tram that runs between the adjacent casinos is a large sphinx. The structure is huge, painted mostly in the same sandstone color that covers the other statues belonging to the hotel. The mane and face, however, are decorated in turquoise and gold colors common in Egyptian art and culture. Paint around the eyes of the sphinx recall the eye makeup of the Ancient Egyptians. Such decoration was common on people of the time, drawn around the eye for protection against evil under the goddess Hathor, the cow-headed goddess of love, music, beauty, and motherhood. While the face of the Las Vegas sphinx is still intact and the form is more modern and resembling of the actual creatures that make it up, it borrows the pose straight from the great Egyptian monument.
Even the casino itself shares the Egyptian symbolism, having been built in the shape of a large black pyramid. The pyramid is a very well-known theme of Egypt. People the world over recognize the shape and connect it with the imposing figures in the Egyptian desert. Egyptian pyramids were incredibly religious structures, having been built for the burial of important people of the time. The triangular shape was said to help the spirit that would leave the body ascend to the heavens where it would meet up with the gods once more. It was a belief of the ancient people that Pharaohs were descended from the gods. It is interesting then that at night on the Las Vegas Strip, a bright beam of light is projected from the apex of the casino pyramid. It is said that the Sky Beam is so powerful that it can be seen from space. Perhaps this was an unintentional correlation by the designers of the resort, but in several ways that is similar to the belief of the spirit climbing the pyramid to the gods.
While it is less obvious to those without a passion for Ancient Egypt, even the hotel and building housing the shops is reminiscent of Egyptian architecture. The building is tall, with straight sides angled in slightly as it ascends. Portions of the wall that come out further toward the sidewalk separate panels of hieroglyphs. This design is similar to that used for temples and other important buildings in Ancient Egypt. With the concrete sandstone color of the building, it could easily fit into a scene along the Nile River without much work at all.
Caesars Palace is a bit older than The Luxor, having opened in 1966. It was a casino built on the idea that everyone could have a chance to experience the luxury of being royalty. The designs of this resort were inspired by that of Ancient Greek and Roman myth and architecture. From the façade of the building to the fountains out front, a distinctly Mediterranean feel permeates the area and brings on the feeling of days of discovery and philosophy.
The name “Caesars Palace” comes straight from history, referencing the great Roman army commander and later dictator, Julius Caesar. During his lifetime he added a great deal of territory to what was controlled by the Romans. He was an ambitious man, working from a young age to further himself in Roman politics when his class standing only required him to go so far. During the time, the empire was experiencing civil war caused by the large size of the territory. Eventually he received the highest position in the Roman Empire. To this day, Julius Caesar is remembered in history for his actions. In using the name, Caesars Palace implies that guests are staying in the home of one of the greatest rulers in history. It plays on one of the deepest-rooted human desires – everyone wants to be great. Caesars Palace suggests to guests that they are great and important, having the opportunity to enjoy the lavish lifestyle of the great Julius Caesar. In Las Vegas, nothing is more expected than a lavish vacation.
The outside of the hotel is designed to resemble ancient Greek and Roman architecture. While it doesn’t go quite as far as The Luxor in mimicking an exact building, the stark lines and angles are drawn from a Roman influence. Buildings of the Roman Empire often included repeating patterns of arcs and pillars. With the way it was designed, the bright white walls of the hotel and casino contrasts with the black of the windows, creating an illusion of these same arcs and pillars. Columns are used everywhere at the resort, from the buildings’ designs themselves to the accents around the pool and more. This is taken from the many pillars and columns used by Roman architects during their time.
One thing Caesars Palace is not short on it statues. Both bronze and bright white statues can be found almost everywhere both inside and out of the casino and hotel. Butting up to the sidewalk along the front of the resort are a number of bronze Greek Sphinxes surrounded by hedges. Greek sphinxes are similar to their Egyptian counterparts in that they were lions with the heads of women, but unlike the Egyptian sphinx, Greek sphinxes sported large, feathery wings. It was the Greek Sphinx at Thebes that challenged passers-by with the famous riddle. Unlike the myth that they are based on, the sphinxes at Caesars Palace are quite small, but they still embody the spirit of their ancient base.
Water features are also quite prevalent in the area of the hotel. Many of these include statues of their own, such as the hippocampus fountains at the corner or the street in front of Caesars Palace. The fountains are bright white and feature several fish-tailed horses. These mythical horses were creatures that served Poseidon or Neptune, god of the sea and creator of the horse. Creatures like this that shared characteristics of several creatures were common in Greek and Roman mythology, which gave us stories of the half-man-half-horse centaurs as well as the hag-bird sirens and the bull-man Minotaur. The fountains at Caesars Palace might not exactly be a tribute to the sea god and his creations, but they still do their best to portray the power and majesty of a creature long ago carved in baths all over the ancient civilization.
Mythology itself even gets a shout-out from the casino in the form of a great fountain located in the forum shops. The Atlantis Fountain tells the story of the king of Atlantis and his children, all vying to be the heir to the throne. Their actions ultimately lead the gods to destroy the city, and so the story of the sinking of Atlantis is told through the use of animatronic figures and a great deal of fire. Stories of the gods interfering with the lives of humans on Earth were incredibly common in ancient mythology. Demigods were the children of a single godly parent and a mortal. Monsters such as the Minotaur were born in this way as well. Sometimes, as was the case with Troy and a great many other trials that Odysseus faced, the gods would influence the results of a battle or else place obstacles in the way of mean so as to tempt them or to control their actions. Many times, gods would step in when the actions of a person or a group would anger them, as seen in the fountain show at Caesars Palace.
With all of the ties to the great and influential Empire of Rome, Caesars Palace sets itself up for greatness. While Las Vegas may be far from where the actual Caesar once ruled, the casino and hotel still offer what they can to guests to make them feel as if they have just walked into history.