The Temple at Luxor is beside the River Nile;a smaller and more modest temple which is compact and easy to cover in an hour. There are some beautiful and well preserved reliefs here that are well worth seeing. The temple looks even more spectacular when viewed at night under the orange glare of the lights. During the time of the ancient Egyptians this would have been the capital of Thebes, and as with other temple sites this has had many other places of worship beneath it before its construction. It was built by Amhoteb III who reigned from 1390 – 1352 BC; he was known as the Sun King and was a powerful and popular ruler. The Temple has preserved well over the years largely due to it being covered in sand, so well in fact, that it was concealed beneath the village of Luxor for thousands of years. Excavation did not start on the site until the late nineteenth century when the temple was discovered beneath the sand.
This magnificent temple can be entered by the avenue of breath-taking Sphinxes. When the Sphinxes come to an abrupt halt you are in front of a gigantic pylon created by Ramesses II. The temple complex was added to and expanded upon by other rulers after the death of Amhoteb III as with other temples in Egypt. Much of the relief work here depicts Ramesses in battle scenes usurping his enemies, and there is little pictorial evidence of Amhoteb III left to be seen. Another impressive part of the Temple is the Great Court of Ramesses II surrounded by two rows of papyrus bud columns. Strangely, on this site you will find a mosque Abu al-Haggag dating back to the 13th century AD. The village demanded that this mosque be left intact when the village was originally excavated. It is a sign of continuous worship going back thousands of years on this sacred temple site.
There is a festival held here each year that is worth seeing during your time in Egypt depending on what time of year you come called the Moulid of Abu al-Haggig, with gigantic floats complete with musicians, dancers, a giant boat and horse-racing. This lively festival is usually held around two weeks before Ramadan.
You will also see to the west a small Bark Shrine with triple chapels dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu (similar to Karnak) used to celebrate the Opet Festival. You may also notice the statue of a beautiful woman in a translucent gown, this is Nefertari the wife of Ramesses II, and her tomb lies in the West Bank. The temple of Amhoteb III starts with a series of columns which are nearly 65ft tall, and the highlight of Amhoteb’s temple is the open air sun court, here again we have a series of columns which together with the sun court create quite an intimate and ghostly atmosphere, especially at night under the luminosity of the lights.
The temple was added to by the Romans and there is evidence of this throughout the temple with remains of roman fortresses and images of former roman emperors on the walls. Interestingly a Bark Shine was rebuilt by Alexander the Great himself and he is also depicted on the walls of the chamber before the God of Amun. The oldest part of the temple is the central sanctuary where the stone image of Amun was kept, this is no longer here now, and the base is all that remains.
The Temple of Luxor, is open throughout the day from 6am until 8pm May-September , and from October-April 6AM-9PM winter to spring, entrance fees are LE 50, and LE 25 for students. Visiting in the evening is a treat as the light display is phenomenal, but if you choose to visit during the day makes sure you bring sensible shoes, sun protection and drinking water.
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