Karnak Temple Luxor Egypt information, tours, booking
Karnak Temple Luxor in East bank of Luxor indeed is one of the greatest temples all over Egypt. Thebes was the capital of New Kingdom Egypt. In fact, the temple grown in importance throughout the Middle Kingdom. The temple was in fact a sanctuary of the god, Montu. Moreover, Karnak Temple and Luxor temple together known as Waset. Thebes was the later Greek name for the town. The history of Karnak Temple Luxor and its gods told in three performances. They are in different languages each evening in a spectacular Sound and Light Show. In fact, Karnak Temple in Luxor has the biggest temple complex in the world.
Furthermore, it covers an area of 100 hectares. In fact, there is nowhere more impressive to the first-time visitor. Much of it restored during the last century. In ancient times, Karnak temple known as Ipet-isut, “The most select of places”. Karnak temple and Luxor temple built along two axes (east-west and north-south). They are with the original Middle Kingdom shrines. Furthermore, they built on a mound in the center of which now called the Temple of Amun. On the west side there is the entrance to Karnak Temple Luxor which used visitors. It was once a quay built by Ramses II to give access via a canal to the river Nile. This is where boats carrying statues of the gods. They would arrive and departed from the temple during festivals. They are such as Opet.
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It is from where the cult statue of Amun would leave on its weekly tour of the west bank Temples. The temples are such as Deir El Bahri and Medinet Habu. There are many names of kings on the quay. Each records the levels of inundations during their reigns. On the right of Karnak temple, in front of the first pylon, is a small barque shrine. In fact, it built by Hakor. It used as a resting place during the gods’ processional journey to and from the river. Moreover, an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes leads to the massive front of the first pylon. Each one holds a statue of the king Ramses II in its paws. It later usurped by Pinudjem. The sphinxes of Karnak temple indeed fantastic beasts with the body of a lion. They also have head of a ram and a symbol of the god Amun.
In fact, the first pylon of Karnak temple unfinished. Its height was of 43 m. It is still indeed pretty impressive. There is no certainty about who built it. It maybe constructed by Nectanebo I. Moreover, he is the one who built the temenos walls. The walls are which link to the pylon and surround the temple complex. The remains of a mud brick ramp can still seen on the inner side of the pylon. In fact, it is the only example we have, and which shows how the pylon constructed. The forecourt is now inside the entrance pylon. It was outside the main temple. In the center of Karnak temple, are the remains of the giant Kiosk of the Nubian pharaoh, Taharqo. Moreover, they are with its one complete papyrus column still standing.
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Karnak temple in Luxor built to expand outwards from a central core behind the sanctuary of Amun. The triple barque shrine of Seti II are in the north of the forecourt. They adjoin the first pylon of Karnak temple. The shrine is with three rooms. The rooms built to contain the barques of Mut, Amun and also Khonsu, the gods of the Theban triad. On the south side of the forecourt is the entrance to a temple of Ramses III. In fact, Ramses III not satisfied with the simple way-stations of his ancestors. That is why he built an elaborate barque shrine. It designed as a mini-version of his mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. Its first court lined with Osirid statues of Ramses and its walls show festival scenes and also texts. Next to this is the “Bubastite gate”. In fact, it built by Sheshonq, the biblical king “Shishak”.
The second pylon of Karnak temple built by Horemheb. It not completed until the reign of Seti First. In fact, Seti’s son Ramses II built two colossal statues of himself which stood in front of the pylon gate. Moreover, a third statue of Ramses II still stands in situ. It also has a tiny statue of his daughter Bent’anta between its feet. In fact, this statue later usurped by Ramses VI and then also by the High Priest Pinudjem First. Inside the walls of this pylon there are many of the sandstone talatat blocks. They are from the Akhenaten temple. Furthermore, they reused as infill in the construction of the walls. The entrance of the second pylon of Karnak Temple is the famous hypo-style hall. It stands among its 134 gigantic columns.
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The center 12 columns are larger (21 m tall) and also open papyrus capitals. They maybe intended to symbolize the original “mound of creation”. The other 122 columns are smaller (15 m). They closed capitals. They also perhaps represent the swamp which surrounded the mound. The hypo-style hall begun by Amenhotep III who built the side walls. The side walls are close off the space between the second and third pylons. In fact, it was not completed until the reign of Seti First. Seti I carved his beautiful raised reliefs around the walls of the northern half. Moreover, his son Ramses II completed the decoration of the southern half. In fact, it was of the walls and pillars. He often over carved his father’s reliefs. It features his own crude sunk relief carvings including temple foundation rituals. “Ramses the Great” was not indeed going to forgotten.
Both Seti and Ramses indeed left fine examples of temple ritual. They also did the relationship of the pharaohs with their gods. Accounts of their battle exploits carved around the outer walls. It was Ramses who added a roof of stone slabs to the hall. The pillars are close together and it’s difficult to get an overview of the hypo style hall. When it used the spaces between the columns filled with statues of gods and kings. Looking back at the hypo style hall from beyond the third pylon we can see how high it once was. The third pylon of Karnak temple built by Amenhotep III. Many reused blocks found inside the third pylon from buildings. They now reconstructed in the open air museum.
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One of a pair of obelisks of Thutmose I is still standing in the area. It is between the third and fourth pylon. The bases of a pair belonging to Thutmose III can also seen. The north south axis of the temple branches off from this court. Each successive pharaoh compelled to build bigger and better than his forebears. The original Temple of Amun, the pylons get smaller and closer together. The fourth and fifth pylons built by Thutmose First. They are much smaller than the third and the area between them is the oldest extant part of the temple. This area was once a pillared hall containing wide papyrus columns. Perhaps the prototype of the hypo style hall and the huge Osirid statues of Thutmose I lining its walls.
It later restored and added to by various pharaohs. It includes his daughter Hatshepsut who built two red granite obelisks here. One of which still remains, and the pyramidion of the other lies on its side near the sacred lake. The texts on Hatshepsut’s obelisk give important details. Details are about the monument building. It is from a single piece of granite and gilded with the finest gold. It dedicated to her father Amun and it attempts to legitimize her claim to the throne. Not much remains of the sixth pylon which built by Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III. Apart from texts giving details of captured prisoners on its lower walls. The area before the sanctuary contains two beautiful pillars. They sometimes called the pillars of the north and south, erected by Thutmose III.
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The northern pillar shows the emblem of Lower Egypt, the papyrus. The southern one is the lily (or Lotus) of Upper Egypt. The sanctuary now standing is a granite barque shrine. It built by the Greek Philip Arrhidaeus and replaces an earlier shrine of Thutmose III. The rooms surrounding the shrine built by Hatshepsut. She constructed an even earlier shrine here. If we walk around the passage we can see a statue pair representing Amun and Amunet. They dedicated by Tutankhamun and thought to show the face of the boy-king. The open area behind the granite sanctuary is the oldest part of Karnak temple. It is where the earliest sanctuary once stood, right at the heart of the temple.
In the Middle Kingdom a shrine of Senwosret I stood here. But the area robbed for its stone and all that remains are a large alabaster slab. It would have had a shrine built on it. The central court surrounded by various semi-ruined chambers. They contain a wealth of fragmentary but interesting reliefs if you have time to explore them. Along the south side of the central court there is a building known as the Festival Temple of Thutmose III. It called ‘Most splendid of Monuments’. It built as a memorial temple to Thutmose and his ancestral cult. The pillars inside the hall said to imitate the ancient tent poles of a pavilion. They still show good remains of the colored decoration.
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One of the rooms to the southwest of the pillared hall once contained a table of kings. It which the names of 62 kings and is now in the Louvre in Paris. There are several ruined statues to the north of the hall. In fact, they are in an area which used as a church in the Coptic era. Behind the columned hall is a suite of rooms which dedicated to Amun. A larger room to the north sometimes known as the Zoological Garden or Botanical Garden. It called so because it contains superb delicate carvings. They represent plants and animals which Thutmose encountered on his Syrian campaigns. A flight of wooden stairs leads over the wall behind the festival temple.
In the area leading towards Karnak’s east gate is a small “Temple of the Hearing Ear”, built by Ramses II. Here local inhabitants of Thebes would bring their petitions to the gods of Karnak. It is rather to the priests who would intercede. This was a tradition which suggested by earlier niche shrines. They built against the back of the Thutmose complex. Inside the crumbling eastern walls are various remains of later temple structures. They are such as a Colonnade built by Taharqo. The Eastern gate must have been once imposing but is now in quite a ruinous state. The scant remains of Amenhotep IV’s (Akhenaten) Karnak Temple buildings discovered. They are Beyond this gate and outside the main temple walls.
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These excavated in the 1970s. Many of the colossal statues of Akhenaten now in the Luxor Museum and Cairo Museum came from here. Following the walls round to the north, we come to the Temple of Ptah. The original three sanctuaries constructed by Thutmose III. They dedicated to the Memphite god, Ptah. It restored by the Nubian king Shabaqo and later much added to by the Ptolemies and Romans. Ptolemaic screen walls and flowered columns are in front of the original sanctuary area. The north and center sanctuaries dedicated to Ptah and the southern one to Hathor. In the southern shrine, a beautiful restored statue of the lioness goddess Sekhmet.
Beyond the temenos wall to the north is the derelict Precinct of Montu. He was the earlier falcon-headed god of the Theban area before Amun gained prominence. The temple built by Amenhotep III and his cartouches can still seen on some of the blocks in the compound. Several later kings added to the temple. A large pro-pylon gate built by Ptolemy III in the quay area to the north. There were many smaller adjoining chapels and shrines. They dedicated to various deities, as well as an avenue of human-headed sphinxes to the north.
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Moving west, past the shrines of the ‘God’s Wives of Amun’, we come to the Open Air Museum. It houses various blocks and reconstructed shrines found in other parts of Karnak. Most of the fragments here found inside the second and third pylons. They also found in the floor of the court of the seventh pylon. The limestone barque shrine of Senwosret I is an airy structure. It built as a ‘way-station’ for the king’s jubilee. Next to this is a shining white alabaster shrine built by Amenhotep II. It is a much simpler construction, and also a similar shrine which built by Thutmose IV. Also here, archaeologists are reconstructing parts of a Temple of Thutmose IV. They show some fine reliefs.
One of the most recent reconstructions in the open-air museum is the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut. It was the original Sanctuary of Amun at the heart of Karnak. It dismantled by Thutmose III who rebuilt his own sanctuary, reusing Hatshepsut’s door jambs. Later Amenhotep III made use of the red chapel’s blocks as part of the filling of his third pylon. It is why they have survived in such good condition. French archaeologists spent the past few years rebuilding the chapel from the available blocks. It was a difficult task due to the original construction techniques. On the other side of the Temple of Amun, to the south, the visitor comes to the Sacred Lake. The area in the foreground was a fowl yard.
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The domesticated birds belonging to Amun driven from here. It is through a stone tunnel into the lake each day. The lake overlooked by seating for the Sound and Light Show today. The underneath here the remains of priests’ houses found. Pylons seven, eight, nine and ten run on a north-south axis to the main temple. They called the transverse axis. A treasure store of 751 stone statues and stelae found. In fact, it was when the court before the seventh pylon excavated, . It is along with over 17,000 bronzes which now form a large part of the Cairo Museum collections. Some of the statues can now seen in the Luxor Museum. They buried in the Ptolemaic Period, but no-one knows exactly why.
The way through the eighth to tenth pylons blocked due to work in progress. The ninth pylon at present taken down and reconstructed. Blocks from local Aten Temples used as infill here. We can see some of these talatat blocks of Akhenaten now in the Luxor Museum. To the east of the ninth pylon is a chapel commemorating Amenhotep II’s jubilee. It restored after the Amarna Period by Seti First. In the south west corner of the Amun precinct we come to the Temple of Khonsu. He is the son of Amun and Mut. It is a well preserved small temple from the late New Kingdom. It built towards the end of the Ramesside Period. The temple has the feeling that it built in miniature. It is with squat pillars and low ceilings, which seems appropriate for Khonsu, the child.
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Reliefs in the rooms to the back of the temple still have some good color. The include this unusual depiction of a lion-headed god. A doorway from the Khonsu Temple leads through to a later structure next to it. The temple dedicated to the hippopotamus goddess Apet, or Opet. (not to confused with the festival of Opet). She said to have helped women in childbirth, possibly a later aspect of the goddess Tauret. Reliefs inside the temple depict the funeral rites of Osiris, in the Graeco-Roman tradition. Karnak Temple can be a confusing place. Its buildings spanning a long period in Egyptian history. Most visitors on guided tours have little time to see much of the temple. Many visits needed to get even a brief idea of the temple as a whole.
Getting to Karnak Temple in Luxor:
Karnak temple is on the northern edge of the town of Luxor. It is within walking distance from the Corniche. Visitors may prefer to take a taxi or a caleche (horse-drawn carriage) each way from the center of town. Karnak temple is open from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm in winter and tickets cost 80 Egyptian pound. To visit he open-air museum and extra ticket of 35 Egyptian pound required.