Luxor is Egypt’s most historically rich governorate. It is famous for the ancient Egyptian monuments, and the most famous temple of all time, Karnak Temple.
The Karnak Temple Complex, aka the Karnak Temple, is a place you don’t want to miss when you travel to Luxor. It is not just an ancient Egyptian temple. It is a group of temples, columns, and buildings. It was initially built for Amun Ra of the modern era and his family. There is a separate temple for his wife, the goddess Mut, and their son, the god Khonsu. If you mean a specific temple by the Karnak temple, it is the one named after Amun Ra.
Also, click here to read the article in Arabic.
The Three Main Gods of the Temple
Before discussing the temple itself, we need to know some information about its main three gods, Amun, Mut, and Khonsu as the temple was built as a cult dedicated to these three gods.
Aka Amon, Ammon and Amen. Amun was a very important god and the god of the sun and air.
Aka Maut, Mut and Mout. Mut was a goddess that her name means ‘mother’ and known as mother goddess. Some considered her the mother of everything in the world, while others considered her as the mother of Khonsu, the moon child god.
It means ‘traveler,” and he is the son of goddess Mut and the Moon’s ancient Egyptian god.
What is the Karnak Temple?
The Name Origin
The name Karnak is relatively new. It came out in reference to the city of Karnak, which is a modern name. At first, it was called “Bar Amun,” which means the temple of Amun or Bet Amun. However, as per the Middle Kingdom, it was renamed to Ibt Sot, which means the chosen places the chosen spot. The temple was known by many names throughout history such as Nisot-Toa, which means the throne of the two states, and Ebet Eset, which means the most magnificent seat.
It was widely believed that Thebes was the very first city to be formed on Earth. This has contributed to changing its names multiple times as the temple location was on this holy spot. Karnak used to have a remarkable place as an ancient observatory and worship place where Amun interacted directly with people.
When You Travel to Luxor, Make Sure to See Inside the Temples of Karnak
We will take you to a tour to know a little bit about each temple and what’s unique about them like the Avenue of Sphinxes. As you go through its main gate, you will find smash headed sphinxes.
The Great Temple
The Karnak temples cover more than 2km sq. If you don’t have enough time to visit all the temples while your travel to Luxor, you should make sure to at least visit the Great Temple of Amun. Some people even visit it more than once to be able to grasp its overwhelming inspiration. It is famous for its hypostyle hall, which is a forest of huge columns in papyrus shape.
Best Time to Travel to Luxor
The best time to visit this particular temple is in the early morning or the late afternoon. The reason is that the light at these times of the day adds extra beauty to the temple as it becomes mostly quiet with not too many visitors. However, the best time to travel to Luxor in general is in the winter.
North From the Main Temple of Amun
Aka the Karnak Open-Air Museum, which is a group of shrines.
Kiosk of Sesostris
On the north of the Great Temple of Amun, you will find The Kiosk of Sesostris I. It is considered one of the oldest structures in all of the temples.
Temple of Ptah
You can approach the temple from the west through any of the five gateways. Then, you will find a passage constituted of four columns and rich foliage capitals. Toward the end of the passage, you will find a small Pylon on the doorway with the name of Tuthmosis III.
The door leads to a Court with two 16-sided columns with two altar bases and a staircase leading to an upper story.
In the center of the court, there is a door that leads into the Sanctuary. On the doorway, you can find restored reliefs.
Northern Temple Precinct
After the Temple of Ptah, you will find a gate to the Northern Temple Precinct. surrounded by a brick wall.
Temple of Montu
Inside the Northern Temple Precinct, you will find the Temple of Montu. Unfortunately, The temple is completely ruined. Yet, the old fragments of sculpture and architectural elements are still valuable.
East from the Main Temple of Amun
Temple of Ramses II
As you leave the Great Temple of Amun, you will find the ruined Temple of Ramses II. In front of the doorway, there was originally a hall that goes back to the reign of Taharqa.
North of these structures, there are the remains of another Temple of Ramses II. South of these remains, there are a brick building’s remains to go back even before the Middle Kingdom.
Temple of Osiris
In front of the eastern enclosure wall, there is a small Temple of Osiris.
South From the Main Temple of Amun
In Arabic, it is called Birket el-Mallaha, which could be translated to “Lake of the Salt Pan.” The reason for this name is that the lake water is slightly saline.
Temple of Khonsu
Ramses III built the temple itself, but the reliefs were built during the times of Ramses IV and XII and the priest-king Herihor, who built the forecourt.
The central doorway leading to the forecourt has reliefs of Alexander II. The temple is remarked by its huge Pylon that is 32 meters long, 10 meters deep, and 18 meters high.
Then, you will find Hypostyle Hall which its walls and columns have depictions of Ramses XII and Herihor, High Priest of Amun.
This will lead you to the door of a larger hall. The reliefs on its walls depict the King (Ramses IV or XII) and various gods.
Don’t miss visiting the dark chamber with reliefs of Ramses IV, the small chamber that shows Ramses IV, Emperor Augustus and Theban gods, and the seven small chapels with the reliefs of Ramses III and his successor.
Temple of Osiris and Opet
On the southwest side of the Temple of Khonsu, there is a small Temple of Osiris and Opet. In this temple, you will find a relief about Osiris, Isis and Nephthys and another one about the birth of Horus.
Southern Temple Precinct
The gateway enters you to an unexcavated area where you will find large figures of sphinxes and rams.
Temple of Mut
South of the main temple exit, there is the Temple of Mut. In front of the entrance, you will find interesting figures of the god Bes. The doorway also has inscriptions of the Ptolemaic period and Ramesses III.
Then, you will find two large courts with Fragments of the Hathor capitals of Sekhmet’s pillars and statues. There is also a giant Sekhmet statue, a black granite statue of Amenophis III and a lot more.
Interesting Facts to Know When You Travel to Luxor:
- The Great Hypostyle Hall in the Karnak Temple size is 54,000 square feet which as big to fit the whole Cathedral of Notre Dame.
- Tools similar to modern medicine surgical instruments were found in one of the Karnak temples.
- More than eighty thousand servants and slaves contributed to serving Amon-Ra in Karnak. Moreover, 5,000 statues were established in his honor.
- Animals like geese and rams and more than 421,000 head of cattle were considered sacred animals, especially for Amon. These animals were even kept at the temples in Karnak.
- Thirty pharaohs contributed to the Karnak complex overt more than a thousand year.
- Some columns are over 3200 years old.
Your Guide for an Extraordinary Travel to Luxor
Address and Tickets
Its address is Maabad Al Karnak St, Luxor. The ticket price is about 120 LE for adults and 60 for students. For the open-air museum, it is 150 LE for adults and 75 LE for students.
Pay a Visit to Sound & Light Show
There are two shows every night. The first one is in English and the second one is either in German, French, Italian or Spanish as it differs every day. The Show tour includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel or cruise ship with an English-speaking driver and the show tickets.
Go Early in the Morning
It opens at 6 am, and the earlier you are, the better as you avoid the crowd anyway, you should avoid 10 am to 3 pm as it is the most crowded time of the day.
Make Time for Photos
By 5 pm, the atmosphere becomes amazing for photos, so make sure to prepare for that.
What About Transportation During Your Travel to Luxor
You can walk from downtown Luxor to Karnak along the Corniche as it is a short distance and the weather is good by the Nile.
Luxor is famous for the horse carriages that can drive you anywhere as a means of transportation. Thus, if you want to try something new during your trip to Luxor, it is highly recommended to try a horse carriage.
Take a Taxi
There are taxis everywhere that can drive you from wherever you are till the temple entrance.
The Karnak complex of temples is the second most visited place in Egypt after the Pyramids of Giza. If you plan a travel to Luxor in the future, you should not miss visiting the Karnak. The massive size of the complex, the unique architecture, and the artistic and linguistic details make this particular temple essential to understand the history of ancient Egypt.
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