Ancient Egypt is revered for its temples, cultural significance, architectural style, hidden aspects and unique purposes. One of the prominent names in the Egyptian list of temples is Luxor Temple. Located on the east bank of the Nile in southern Egypt, this monument is still graceful in its glory. Known as the largest open-air museum in the world, this temple was the crowning place of many Egyptian kings, including Alexander the Great. Located in the historic city of modern Luxor and ancient Thebes, Luxor Temple is definitely worth a visit.
What to know about Luxor Temple
In the Egyptian language, Luxor Temple is known as “Ipet Rest”, which means the “Sanctuary of the South”. Going back to 1392 BCE, construction of the temple began in 1213 BCE. The temple served mainly as a ceremonial place and its main role was during the annual festival of Opet, an ancient Egyptian festival where the statues of Amun, Mut, Khonsu along the Avenue of the Sphinxes were moved from Karnak and gathered here. Also, this temple is considered the “place of the first occasion” because the god Amun experienced a rebirth during the coronation ceremony of the pharaoh. It also served as a burial place for the royal family where the pharaohs were buried in the tombs that were dug into the rocks later.
- Temple built by: Construction of the temple was started by pharaohs such as Amenhotep 3 during the New Kingdom, followed by Tutankhamun, then Horemheb, and finished by Ramesses II.
- Dedicated to: The temple was dedicated to the coronation of new royalty.
- Reign: The statues and carvings in the temple mainly depict Ramesses II.
Luxor temple architecture
The huge Luxor Temple has ten sections, including the Avenue of the Sphinxes, the Courtyard of the Mosque, the Roman Camp, the Chapel of Mut, the Chapel of Khonsu, the Chapel of Amun, the Birth Chamber, the Courtyard of Amenhotep 3, the court of Ramesses 2, the first pylon and the mosque. . Built with sandstone, called Nubian sandstone, the temple was dedicated to the king of Egyptian gods Amun-Ra.
Features of the construction of the Luxor Temple
The construction design of the temple symbolizes the purpose behind each element. The purpose of the mud brick walls around the temple invite separation between reality and the realm of the gods. A pylon exists in the temple which is nothing but an entrance to the temple where priests, pharaohs and officials were only allowed to enter the temple back then. Two obelisks mark the entrance having the achievements of the pharaoh edifying it. Also, two statues represent the pharaoh seated on his throne. The temple also has two courtyards which are connected by a columned corridor called colonnades. Basically, the colonnades resembled papyrus which was a crucial plant for the Egyptians, used for paper, sandals, and other essentials. Columns were also very popular in Egyptian temples which depicted the deeds of kings. The inner part of the temple includes four antechambers, adjoining rooms and a sanctuary of the sacred boat.
The Egyptians incorporated “optical illusion” into their architectural style where the stone obelisks at the entrance were of different heights but featured the same height. There is no roof covering on this structure and so it is soaked in the sun’s rays. The purpose of this was for the worshipers to realize the power of God Amun-Ra. Amun is the God who created the universe and Ra is the God of Sun and Light. Thus, Amun Ra was the chief of the gods. Few graphic representations reflected the god Amun as well as the fertility god Min.
Shrines at Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple also has many shrines including that of Alexander the Great, a Roman shrine, huge statues of Ramses, a hypostyle hall, a peristyle courtyard dating back to the construction of Amenhotep, Barque shrines built by Alexander the Great and the Sanctuary of Amenhotep III with Scenes of His Divine Birth. The final and holiest chamber in the temple is that of Amenhotep III. It is believed that Luxor Temple is connected to later Karnak by an avenue of “700 sandstone human-headed sphinxes” which is said to stretch for about three km. Some complexes were later used to build Christian churches in the 4th and 6th centuries and some were also used to build mosques.
Objectives of Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple was primarily dedicated to the crowning of new royalty, but it also served a variety of purposes. Religious sacrifices, protection from evil forces and prayers of mercy were performed here. The temple also contained libraries containing hieroglyphs dating from important historical events, events related to the pharaohs and any significant events. The temple served as a favorite place for the Theban Triad, i.e. Amun Ra, the supreme god, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu, the moon god. Engravings of Pharaoh Amenhotep III as well as depictions of his mother, Queen Tiy, and his wife, Queen Nefertiti can be seen on the walls.
Luxor Temple Tour
The entrance ticket to the temple costs about 140 EGP, or about 8.60 USD. Also, one can hire a guide to know the history of the temple in detail. One can hire a taxi from Cairo to Luxor which is around 400 miles costing around US$85 or a direct train from Cairo to Luxor which takes around 9 hours 53 minutes. The train ticket costs between $7 and $13. The luxurious way to travel from Cairo to Luxor is by Nile Cruiser which takes around 12 days and costs around US$700 including meals, guided tours and boarding parties.
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