The Karnak temple complex far surpasses any other in Egypt. It lies on the northern edge of Luxor within walking distance of the town itself and really is one of the most impressive collection of monuments in the world. As with other temples throughout Egypt,Karnak had parts added to it over time, and grew in size over the years. For Karnak this was 1,500 years with various Pharaohs contributing new parts over this vast period. This was the centre of administration with a wealthy treasury employing thousands of workers, with only priests and royal retinue being allowed in. It was often known as Ipet-Isut or The Most Perfect of Places.
The complex consists of 3 precincts each dedicated to a separate God. The first is Amun or Amun Ra the second is Mut and the third is Montu. To the South is the precinct of Amun’s consort Mut connected by ram headed sphinxes from the main temple. To the north is the precinct of the Theban falcon God Montu.
The Sanctury of the Amun-Ra Temple was built during the Middle Kingdom period,and as you enter the further in you go the further back in time you are taken. There have been various archeological excavations over the years; however, mostarchaeological work at Karnaknow focuses on conservation and restoration.
Amun is a massive compound within the temple complex and it consists of two axes, the north south and east west. East West is the main axis and is easiest to stick to when exploring this part of the temple. The first pylon consists of a Great a Court, and the Shrine of Seti II which contains small chapels for the sacred barks of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. Opposite this shrine is a sphinx similar to Tutankhamen and a small Temple of Ramses III.
The Great Hypostyle Hall is a real feast for the eyes with a staggering 134 columns 50ft high, with the largest at the centre at 69ft high. Originally they would have supported a roof with only a small amount of light allowed in, with statues of the pharaohs amongst the columns. It would have been an intimidating sight.
The precincts of Mut and Montu are smaller and contain various monuments built by pharaohs such as Amenhotep III and Tuthmose III. Across from the Amun temple exit on the northside and to the left is an open air museum, separate tickets are needed for entry and they can be purchased from the Karnak ticket office prior to entry.
This magnificent temple complex is one of the most amazing places in the world and a trip to Egypt is not complete without a visit to Karnak.
The opening hours are 6am until 5pm; price to enter the temple complex is 65 LE with 25 LE to enter the open air museum. There is an additional light show, which costs 100 LE. There is a potential fee to video the display at roughly 35 LE should you decide to bring a video camera.
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