Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu is located on the West bank of the Nile, about halfway between Luxor and Aswan. The temple, dedicated to the god Horus, was built between 237 and 57 BCE, during the Ptolemaic period in Egypt, and is a mix of traditional Egyptian styles and Greek influences.
The enormous pylon—which, at approx. 120-feet-tall, is one of the largest in Egypt—is decorated with remarkably preserved battle scenes of King Ptolemy VIII smiting his enemies before Horus (the Ancient Egyptian version of propaganda). Beyond the pylon you enter the Court of Offerings, surrounded by columns elaborately decorated with reliefs.
The temple at Edfu is so well preserved because over the years it was covered with drifting sand and silt from the Nile floods. Like other famous Ancient Egyptian sites, locals built homes on top of the buried temple, and by 1798 only the upper reaches of the temple pylons were visible. In 1860, the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette began uncovering and excavating the temple and in the early 2000s new lights and a visitors center were added.
Horus is a very important Ancient Egyptian god, most often depicted as a falcon or as a man with a falcon head. The son of Isis and Osiris, Horus is basically the Egyptian Jesus (or rather, Jesus is the Catholic version of Horus, the latter predating the former by thousands of years). After Osiris is murdered, Isis reassembles her husband’s dismembered body parts—using her powers to remake his penis, which had been thrown into the Nile and eaten— and brings him back to life in order to conceive Horus, as one does.
The streets of Edfu are so narrow that we couldn’t travel to the temple in our usual tour bus. From our cruise ship, which was anchored in the Nile, we boarded a horse-drawn carriage (known as a caleche) and the drive through town was chaotic to say the least. We had the option to purchase a souvenir photograph after we returned to the ship and—although it’s a classic tourist scam—I think the photographer captured my essence perfectly.