Ancient Egypt is revered for its temples, cultural significance, architectural style, hidden aspects, and sole purposes. One of the prominent names in the Egyptian list of temples is Luxor Temple. Located on the east bank of the Nile river, in the south of Egypt, this monument still stands graceful in its glory. Known as the world's largest outdoor museum, this temple had been the crowning place for many Egyptian kings, including Alexander the Great. Located in the historic city of modern Luxor and Ancient Thebes, Luxor Temple is entirely worth visiting.
What To Know About Luxor Temple
In the Egyptian language, the Luxor Temple is known as "Ipet Rest" which means the "Southern Sanctuary". Harking back to 1392 BCE, the construction of the temple started in 1213 BCE. The temple served as a ceremonial place primarily and its main role was during the annual Opet festival, an Ancient Egypt festival where the statues of Amun, Mut, Khonsu along the Avenue of Sphinxes were moved from Karnak and reunited here. Also, this temple is considered the “Place of The First Occasion” as the God Amun experienced a rebirth during the pharaoh's coronation ceremony. It did serve as a burial site for the royals as well where the pharaohs were buried in the tombs that were carved into rocks later.
- Temple Built By: The construction of the temple was started by the Pharaohs such as Amenhotep 3 during the New Kingdom, followed by Tutankhamen, then Horemheb, and finished by Rameses II.
- Dedicated to: The temple was dedicated to the coronation of new kingship.
- Reign: The statues and carvings at the temple mostly feature Rameses II.
The Architecture Of Luxor Temple
The massive Luxor Temple has ten sections including the Avenue of The Sphinxes, Mosque Court, Roman Camp, Chapel of Mut, Chapel of Khonsu, Chapel of Amun, Birth Chamber, Court of Amenhotep 3, Court of Ramses 2, First Pylon, and Mosque. Built with sandstone, referred to as Nubian sandstone, the temple was dedicated to the King of Egyptian gods Amon-Ra.
Features of Luxor Temple's Construction
The temple construction’s design symbolizes the purpose behind each element. The purpose of the mud-brick walls around the temple beckons the separation between reality and the realm of gods. A Pylon exists in the temple which is nothing but an entrance to the temple where priests, pharaohs, and officials were solely allowed to enter the temple back then. Two obelisks mark the entrance having the accomplishments of the pharaoh erecting it. Also, two statues represent the pharaoh sitting on his throne. The temple also has two courtyards which are connected by a column line hallway called colonnades. Basically, the colonnades resembled papyrus which was a crucial plant for Egyptians used for paper, sandals, and other essentials. Columns have also been widely popular in Egyptian temples which depicted the deeds of kings. The inner part of the temple has four antechambers, accessory rooms as well a sanctuary of the sacred boat.
The Egyptians incorporated “Optical Illusion” in their architectural style where the stone obelisks at the entrance were of different heights but featured the same height. There is no roof cover on this structure and thus it is imbued with sun rays. The purpose of this was for the worshippers 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 has been the chief of Gods. Few graphic depictions reflected the God Amun as well as the fertility God Min.
Shrines At Luxor Temple
The Luxor temple also has many shrines including of Alexander the Great, a Roman Sanctuary, huge statues of Rameses, a Hypostyle hall, a peristyle courtyard hailing back to Amenhotep’s construction, shrines of Barque built by Alexander the Great, and shrine of Amenhotep III featuring scenes of his divine birth. The last and the most sacred chamber of the temple is of Amenhotep III. The Luxor temple is believed to be connected to Karnak later through an avenue of "700 sandstone human-headed Sphinxes'' which is said to run around 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.
Purposes of Luxor Temple
Primarily, the Luxor temple was dedicated to the coronation of new kingship, but it also served various purposes. Religious sacrifices, protection from evil forces, and prayers for mercy were performed here. The temple also beheld libraries that had hieroglyphs dating from important historical events, events related to pharaohs, and any significant events. The temple served as a prime place for Theban Triad, i.e Amun Ra, supreme God, his consort, Mut, and their son Khonsu, the Moon God. Engravings of Pharaoh Amenhotep III along with depictions of his mother, Queen Tiy, and his wife, Queen Nefertiti can be seen on walls.
Visiting the Luxor Temple
The entrance ticket to the temple costs around 140 EGP which is around $8.60 USD. Also, one can hire a guide to know the history of the temple in detail. One can hire a cab from Cairo to Luxor which is around 400 miles costing around $85 USD 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 of traveling from Cairo to Luxor is by Nile Cruiser which takes around 12 days and ranges around $700 USD, including meals, sightseeing tours, and onboarding evening events.