Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple

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Luxor Temple is located on the east bank of the Nile, in the Upper Egyptian city Luxor. There are several temples in Luxor, including Karnak, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Ramesseum. Construction on Luxor was begun by Amenhotep III (1390-52 BCE), completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and then added to by Rameses II. Like Abu Simbel, the entrance to Luxor is flanked by six massive statues of Rameses, two seated and four standing (all that remains of one is the pedestal).

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Our tour group received special permission to visit Luxor at night, and thus had the entire complex to ourselves. This was easily one of the best perks that our tour offered, and being able to explore a popular tourist site with just a handful of other people was just as wonderful as it sounds.

Originally, there were two pink granite obelisks standing on either side of the entrance—obelisks usually came in pairs, but most of them have been moved out of Egypt over the years. The second Luxor obelisk currently stands in the the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The remaining 82-foot-tall obelisk sits on a base adorned with four sacred baboons.

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Present-day Luxor was once called Thebes, and from medieval times people were living in and around the temple. Accumulated garbage and sand once covered three-quarters of the temple. When Luxor was excavated in the 1960s, a mosque built inside of the temple was preserved and remains active today. In ancient times, a 1.5 mile-long avenue lined with 1,350 human-headed sphinx statues connected Karnak and Luxor temples and is currently undergoing restoration.

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The complex includes a colonnade of open-flower papyrus columns and a hypostyle hall, with some of the columns still retaining traces of their once-bright colors. There are several statues inside of the temple, including two representing Tutankhamun, but on each his name has been replaced by that of Rameses II (was he basically the Ancient Egyptian Donald Trump?).

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