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The Colossi of Memnon tower as faceless timeless monuments of an era long gone, and they continue to stand as guardians of an Ancient Egyptian temple that no longer exists. They are located just outside the southern Egyptian city of Luxor and are an attraction one should always have included with any comprehensive tour of Luxor. These colossi are the first things visitors see as they reach the west bank of the Nile just opposite Luxor.

Luxor is one of the main attractions in Egypt - here one can visit the impressive Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings, the timeless Temple of Abu Simbel (built by the great Pharaoh Ramesses II), and many other attractions in the area. Everyone planning to visit Egypt should also plan to go for enough time to visit Luxor after visiting the Pyramids of Giza in the north.

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The Pharaoh Who Built The Colossi Of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The temple they stand in front of is the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III (which now lies completely in ruins). The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III was once a very impressive sight and was the largest temple in the Theban Necropolis.

The stones of the funerary temple were quarried to build new structures and monuments in the region. Today the two colossal statues are the main things that remain of the temple. The temple is still being excavated by archeologists.

  • Depict: Pharaoh Amenhotep III
  • Built: Around 1,350 BC
  • Part Of: The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III
  • Dynasty: 18th Dynasty of Egypt
  • Period: Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1570-c. 1069 BC)

Amenhotep III's father was Thutmose IV (1400-1390 BCE) who left him with a kingdom in a prosperous and stable condition. Amenhotep III was only 12 years old when he became pharaoh, and he married Tiye - a girl who was also only eleven or twelve at the time.

Amenhotep III set to work on a massive building spree throughout Egypt. He commissioned over 250 buildings, temples, statues, and stele while his pleasure palace at Malkata near Thebes covered over 30 hectares. He built so much that for a while Egyptologists attributed to him an extraordinarily long reign as they didn't think such projects could have been completed in less than 100 years.

Related: The UNESCO-Listed Luxor Temple Is An Essential Part Of Any Egypt Tour

An Ancient Bewilderment For 3,300 Years

The tale of how they were built is also incredible. They have been carved from sandstone from the quarries near Cairo (in the region of the pyramids). That means that the sandstone must have been transported the 420 miles or 675 km south to the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor). It is thought they must have been transported over land as they would have been too heavy for the Nile.

These statues are truly ancient having stood there for over 3300 years and were built around 1,350 BC. They tower around 60 feet (18 meters) high and weigh about 720 tons each.

  • Height: 60 Feet or 18 Meters
  • Weight: 720 Tons Each

Over their many years, they have received their share of inscriptions and graffiti, there are some 107 inscriptions in Greek and Latin that date from the Roman era. By the time of the Greco-Roman Era, they were already over 1,000 years old and were a popular tourist attraction.

  • Inscriptions: 107 Roman-era Inscriptions On The Statues

Related: Dazzling Aten: Egypt's 3,000 Year Old Lost City Just Discovered

Visiting The Colossi Of Memnon

Tours of the Colossi of Memnon are normally included on guided tours of other attractions around Luxor. They are normally part of guided tours to the ancient Thebes necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut.

One example of a tour listed on Introducingegypt.com is a day tour to the most famous necropolis of ancient Thebes. On this tour, visitors can discover the tombs of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Ramses III, Set I, and queens such as Nefertari.

The tour starts with a pick-up from one's hotel (or even boat) and lasts 6 hours and includes an English-speaking tour guide.

  • Duration: 6 Hours
  • Guide: English-speaking Guide Included
  • Included: Pick up/drop off, Transport, Guide, Tickets to All Monuments
  • Price: Approx: $75.00

Note that while the tour includes admission to all monuments visited, it doesn't include entry to Nefertiti's tomb (that's around €50 or $55 extra). It also doesn't include access to Tutankhamun's tomb, although guests can choose to visit it while at the Valley of the Kings for an extra $6.00.