Information about Luxor temple in Luxor, Egypt
Luxor temple located in the center of Luxor city. In fact, Luxor temple known as “Ipet-resyt” or “the southern Opet”. Moreover, it served as a focal point for the Opet festival. Once a year the divine image of Amun with his consort Mut and their son Khonsu would journey. The journey was in their sacred barques from Karnak Temple to Luxor temple. It was to celebrate the festival which held during the inundation. Opet’s primary function was religious. But the festival was also significant in maintaining the king’s divine role. The earliest remains found at Luxor temple date back to Dynasty XIII. It is possible that there was a shrine or temple on this site. It was during the Middle Kingdom, but it became more prominent in Dynasty XVIII.
Hatshepsut first began the overland processional way which linked Karnak Temple and Luxor temple. It was with barque stations along the route. In fact, Amenhotep III is the one who constructed the colonnade and court in the heart of the temple. They added to by other pharaohs. Reused blocks of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Amenhotep II are from earlier destroyed structures. Luxor temple does not face the river, but its main axis faces Karnak Temple. It is with the remains of an avenue of sphinxes pointing to the processional way. The remaining of avenue of human-headed sphinxes is 200 m. It erected by Necatnebo I to replace the original ram-headed sphinxes of Amenhotep III. In fact, it was when Nectanebo built an enclosure wall around the precinct.
A Roman shrine with a headless statue of Isis can seen in the north-western corner of the forecourt. The modern entrance to the temple is to the west. After descending the new stone steps the visitor faces the massive first pylon. It is 21 m high and was a later addition by Ramses II. Six statues of Ramses stood before the pylon. But only three remain today with one of an original pair of tall obelisks. The northwest obelisk now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The pylon decorated on its outer face with scenes of the battles of Ramses II and the famous ‘battle poem’. This is best seen in the early morning sun. The inner face has a dedication text and records of the battle of Kadesh as well as festival scenes.
On the south face of the east tower in the first courtyard is a relief. It shows the exterior of the temple when it was first built, with flags flying on the flagpoles. Beyond the first pylon is the court of Ramses II. It would have been the original forecourt of Amenhotep III’s building. On the north-western side is a triple barque shrine of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. It constructed in sandstone. It has features belonging to the earlier structure of Hatshepsut retained in the rebuilding. Ramses’ great court features a colonnade around each of its sides. It inter-spaced with colossal statues, many of which the king usurped from Amenhotep III. The colonnade of Amenhotep III has a slight change in the axis of the earlier part of the temple.
This colonnade has 14 tall papyrus columns. It unfinished at Amenhotep’s death. Its decoration only completed during the reign of Tutankhamen. It finally completed in the reign of Seti I. Here you can see superbly executed reliefs of the Opet procession to and from Karnak. It is on its west and east walls. Tutankhamen‘s name has altered throughout the texts to that of Horemheb. These are best viewed at night. It is when the temple is floodlit. The lighting at the base of the walls throws the decoration into sharp relief. The colonnade leads into the elegant columned court of Amenhotep III with barque shrines. The shrines are of Mut and Khonsu at its southern end. In 1989 during restoration work a spectacular cache of statues found. They beneath the floor of the eastern side of the court and these can now seen in the Luxor Museum.
Beyond the portico on the south side of the court is a room. It transformed into a cult chapel of the Roman legion based at Luxor during the third century AD. The room plastered over and this has served to preserve the painted reliefs of Amenhotep III. A niche-shaped shrine is now a modern entrance to a small offering hall or vestibule. It is with pharaonic scenes of sacrifices and offerings to the gods. Within the sanctuary, a free-standing shrine built by Alexander the Great. It is in which the Greek king appears as Pharaoh. A doorway to the east leads to the ‘birth-room’. Its scenes illustrating the myth of the divine birth of Amenhotep III on the west wall. You can see scenes of the union of Amun with the king’s mother Mutemwiya.
Mutemwiya shown giving birth and the newborn king presented to the gods. These interesting scenes claim the legitimacy of the king and his divine right to rule. They are also best seen when lit up at night. Behind the sanctuary is a private antechamber. It known as the ‘Opet (harem) suite’. It is a broad hall with 12 columns which opens into many smaller chambers behind. These chambers said to have a special significance. They relate to the creation and solar mythologies of Amun and Re at Luxor. The central chamber at the back of the temple was the original holy of hollies. It still has the remains of the pedestal on which the image of the god rested. It would seem that it was in these rooms that the real mysteries of the temple enacted.
The exterior walls are also worth a look. The western side depict the battles of Ramses II. It includes the Syrian and Libyan wars, with details of named fortresses. During the Roman occupation of Egypt, Luxor temple surrounded by a vast military encampment. It may have housed as many as 1500 men. By this time, Luxor temple would have ceased to have a religious function. It is likely that many blocks from the outer temple buildings used. It was to supplement the mud bricks of the Roman barracks. Remains of stone pillars and avenues can still seen all around the temple enclosure. A Christian basilica built in the north-eastern corner of the temple. Later a mosque dedicated to the Muslim Abu All Haggag built over the site. This is now a monument in its own right and is a dominant feature of the eastern side of the Ramses court.
How to get to Luxor Temple:
Luxor temple located on the Corniche in the central part of the town, opposite the ferry dock. Winter opening hours are 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and tickets cost 80 Egyptian pound. In the evening the temple is floodlit. Many of the reliefs which are indistinct during the day can be clearly seen.