References & Recommended Reading
Favorite thing: Egyptian Art, by Jaromir Malek (Phaidon Press)
Égypte - Guides Bleus by Hachette. This is the best guidebook on Egypt, if you read French.
Guides Bleus, Hachette - Égypte (best guidebook on Egypt in French)
If you are lucky, you might see a JACKAL!
Fondest memory: AL Karnak Temple ---- We were on our way out of the Chapel of Sekhmet, the lioness goddess, which at the time was closed and under renovation but my guide bribed the caretaker so we got in --- when all of a sudden, a jackal appeared!
There were no tourists around and so maybe the jackal found that opportunity to snoop around! If you look closely in the middle of the picture, I did get a shot of him leaving. My guide says he never saw one there and that was arare thing to happen.
So, just keep your eyes open for some animals , specially when there's not too many tourists around. That's when they come out.
You will see some images DEFACED permanently!
Fondest memory: The Egyptians believe that the preservation of a person's name and his image guarantees immortality and life beyond death.
However, when you had some enemies left behind, they might cause trouble by erasing your name and defacing your images....
I remembered this ancient custom as I was looking throught my pictures and saw this picture and I wondered why I took it -- and if you look closely, the image was meticulously removed, eradicated, erased, caput! I think it might have been the image of hatsepshut who was so hated by her stepson.
So, watch out for these defacements --- there's a lot of them at Al Karnak.
- Historical Travel
What Time to Visit Al Karnak
Favorite thing: The best time to visit al Karnak temples is during lunchtime, between 12 noon and 2pm. Organised tour operators allocate this time to feed the hords of tourists and therefore crowds tend to be relatively small at Karnak. Plan to have an early or a late lunch that day and visit the temple lunchtime. It is what I did and found the crowds to be manageable.
The Karnak Temples
Favorite thing: The Karnak Temples are open from 6:30 am until 5:30 pm in winter and from 6 am to 6 pm during summer.
Admission is LE 50 for foreigners, LE 20 for foreign students, LE 4 for Egyptians and LE 2 for Egyptian students. Visiting the open-air museum, to the left of the second pylon, costs an extra LE 20. The museum contains a collection of statuary that was found throughout the temple complex. The ticket has to be purchased at the main Karnak ticket kiosk.
Karnak takes at least a half of a day just to walk around its many precincts and years to come to know it well.
Fondest memory: You may get more information about the Karnak Temple in the article "Karnak in Thebes" by Jimmy Dunn here. I've taken the names if sights in english transcription and several explanations from this article. Thanks, Jimmy!
- Museum Visits
Thutmose III & Hatshepsut's obelisks
Favorite thing: In a narrow court, there are several obelisks, one which dates from Thutmose I, and is 21.2m high and weighs nearly 150 tons. Just beyond this is the remaining obelisk of Hatshepsut, nearly 30m in height. Later kings blocked out the view of this from ground level, and constructed walls around it. The companion to this lies broken, by the sacred lake.
Fondest memory: Obelisks were a prominent part of the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrance of temples. Twenty-seven ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus one incomplete obelisk found partly hewn from its quarry at Aswan.
Karnak Temple - Great Hypostyle Hal
Favorite thing: The Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak, located within the Karnak temple complex, in the Precinct of Amon-Re, is one of the most visited monuments of Ancient Egypt. The hall covers an area of 50,000 sq.ft. The roof, now fallen, was supported by 134 columns in 16 rows, the 2 middle rows are higher than the others (being 33 feet in circumference and 80 feet high). The hall was probably begun by Horemheb, but was completed in the early 19th Dynasty by Ramesses I, was then worked on by his son Seti I, and completed by his son, Ramesses II (although Ramesses III, Ramesses IV and Ramesses VI all added their names to walls). The north side of the hall is decorated in raised relief, and was mainly Seti I's work. The southern side of the hall was completed by Ramesses II, in sunk relief. The outer walls depict scenes of battle, Seti I on the north and Ramesses II on the south. These scenes may not show actual combat, but could have a ritual purpose. The southern walls of Ramesses II have scenes that record details of the peace treaty signed between him and the Hittites in the year 21 of Ramesses' reign.
Fondest memory: Column in the Great Hypostyle Hall.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Favorite thing: Karnak Temple is the leading attraction in al-Karnak. Essentially this is al-Karnak. The very term Karnak is nearly universally understood as the temple complex and not the village. It is twice the size of the built-up village area. It is a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It consists of four main parts, of which only one is accessible for tourists and the general public. This is also the "main" temple part and by far the largest part. One can probably on that basis redefine the term Karnak, as to be understood as being the Precinct of Amon-Re only, as this is the only part most visitors normally see. The three other parts are closed to the public.There are also a few smaller temples and sanctuaries located outside the enclosing walls of the four main parts, as well as several avenues of ram-headed sphinxes connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amon-Re and Luxor Temple.The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction work began in the 16th century BC. Approximately 30 pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features is overwhelming.
Fondest memory: Precinct of Amon-Re
This is the largest of the precincts of the temple complex, and is dedicated to Amun-Re, the chief god of the Theban Triad. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom, and continued through to Ptolemaic times. The site occupies roughly 250 000 m² and is so large, and contains so many structures and monuments, that it is advisable to obtain some information before visiting the site, in order not to be overwhelmed and exhausted by its size and complexity. Originally the quay led via a corridor of Sphinxes to the entrance to the second pylon, but these were moved aside when the First Pylon was constructed.
Temple of Amon
Favorite thing: Egyptian cult temples like those at Karnak and Luxor were dedicated to gods who were served there by the pharaoh and his priests. In return, the gods gave life and order to the land of Egypt. The pharaoh of ancient Egypt was more than a head of state, he was looked upon as a divine link between the gods and his people.
Fondest memory: An entrance pylon of massive, twin towers was fronted by obelisks and statues. This led to an open peristyle court beyond which was a columned hypostyle hall. Finally came dimly lit chambers that included the holy inner sanctum that was dedicated to the temple god and accessible only to the pharaoh and priests.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Karnak, the hugest temple in Luxor
Favorite thing: The avenue of the Sphinx connected in the past the two existing temples. Luxor and Karnak.
It was a yearly tradition that this avenue was scénary of a religious procession.
The three golden boats were highlights at the procession. Next to the noble people and the highpriests, the locals brought many offers.
Fondest memory: Karnak is the biggest historical temple in Luxor. So many Pharaos of different Egypt Dynasties builded and rebuilded this temple.
So you will find many different styles of architecture
- Historical Travel
Say Hi to the Welcome Goats!
Favorite thing: We saw this little guy proudly standing on one of the benches that line the pathway leading up to the entrance to the Karnak Temple. My mom asked if he was real or a statue... he was a live goat... he just didn't seem to mind posing for me to take a picture with him. He had another friend with him and later we saw them wandering around inside the temple.
Be sure to stop and take a picture with the goat or maybe try to get one as a tour guide. They seemed to know their way around the place well and didn't ask for tips =)
Fondest memory: Also, remember the nice shady benches in case you get too hot or tired while inside the temple... come back out to the benches for a nice rest in the shade... unless, of course, they are all occupied by goats =)
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: If you have no plastic card (either a debit, or a credit one) and do not wish to be bothered with travelers cheques (where commission charges tend to be quite high) you will be better off taking with you determinate currency.
At present, these currencies are clearly Euros (#1, offering the best exchange rate) and US Dollars (as widely accepted but somewhat marked down by the Exchange Bureaus & banks due to the recent slide).
Some other currencies are accepted, but they are heavily marked down.
Favorite thing: As it is in most of the places on the tourist circuit in Egypt, its safety first at the Karnak Temple near Luxor.
Here an armored anti-terrorist vehicle stands guard outside the main gate of the temple. When you visit Egypt you will see these kinds of measures in place quite often......
Favorite thing: A pair of liberated feet, with no attaching body that you can find at Karnak.
I dont know what tragic event or illness may have caused this condition, but one can only speculate that if only the miracles of modern podiatry (as administered by FOotfetish and her beer guzzling Aussie mates) had been available to the ancient Egyptians, this sort of event could likely have been avoided...
- Road Trip
A group of tourists in the temple
Fondest memory: A group of adult foreign tourists (yes, that was us:))) and not only!) going in circles (7 times, ladies and gents!) around the sacred scarab to get all our wishes fulfilled.
If that is not your ambition, you could choose a smaller number of circles (for marriage and divorce).