The smallest Pylon in the Temple of Amun, numbered Sixth by archaeologists, was constructed by Thutmosis III, after the Fourth and Fifth Pylons were built. Thutmosis III also raised two 7 metre columns (still standing today) which represent the unity of Upper and Lower Egypt. Statues of the god Amun and his female counterpart Amunet are still standing next to the Sixth Pylon. From here, the Sacred Barque Sanctuary is accessed.
With a front wall big enough to defy logic, the Temple of Karnak is in better condition than many sites in Egypt. Again, this site is easily accessed from the waterfront if you are doing a Nile cruise.
The Sacred Lake is the final destination of the Sound and Light tour, There are seats where the audience sit and hear a history of Karnak.
By day it is interesting to see this lake., artificially constructed in ancient times. It is 129x77 m and was surrounded by store rooms, priests' living quarters and an aviary where water fowl were kept.
There are still a number of obelisks to be seen at Karnak.
The obelisk of Tuthmosis I is 70 ft tall and that of Hatchepsut 97 ft tall [second only to the one in Rome].
There is also the fallen obelisk.
All were engraved with cartouches and hieroglyphic accounts.
The temple of Amun is the heart of the Karnak Temple.. It begins at the Second Pylon which was built by Ramses I. Then the Hypostyle Hall during the time of Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II. The walls, ceiling and columns are of natural earth colours. The ceiling was 82 feet high and there were 12 papyrus columns, 6 on each side. On the outer side were 7 rows of 9 columns except for the inner row which had 6. All were 42 ft high.
The columns are incised , those of Ramses II being deeper, and more impressive.
Opening times 6.30 am-5.30am in winter; 6.00 am -6.00 pm in summer.
Cost for foreigners £Egy. 20
My guide took me to the side of the Karnak Temple and there was a chapel (less visited at the time because it was under renovation) which housed the lion goddess, known as the Powerful One, Sekhmet. She was standing alone in the darkness and I was the only tourist photographing her at the time.
Sekhmet, the war goddess of Upper Egypt, protects the pharaoh during battle and uses of arrows of fire against the enemies and her body lights up like the blinding glare of the midday sun – hence the name lady of flame. Hot desert winds also come out of her mouth…. Kinda reminds me of an ex-girlfriend, hehehe….
In art, you will usually see her depicted with the head of a lioness and her dress the colour of blood, RED.
But despite her ferocious depiction, Sekhmet is also the goddess of healing who drives out the demons in those who are ill.
So, if you do have a good guide, ask him (or her) to bring you to this statue which is hidden from all the others…
Okay, so we see obelisks everywhere (one in Paris), I think I also saw obelisk-looking structures (not necessarily Egyptian) in Stockholm, in Buenos Aires, Washington DC...
But if you want to see the tallest EGYPTIAN obelisk that is still standing, go to Karnak.
The female Pharaoh, Hathsepsut, built obelisks in her honor and one of them still stands at 100 feet (30m), carved purely from one long solid piece of granite! There are stories surrounding these obelisks from the female pharaoh. Her stepson hated her but did not destroy the obelisks because the top portion was dedicated to the god Amun, and so apparently he covered the bottom part with walls and had only the top portion exposed.
It is just so nice to be so close to these amazing massive structures! Another obelisk actually lies beside the Sacred Lake, but it was lying down. I liked the obelisks so much so I also bought one made of basalt --- a two feet obelisk of my own --- but I don't know what the figures mean! Can somebody help me????
Wow, just walking through these gigantic columns in Karnak reminded me of that Disney movie (on Moses I think)...it is hard to capture the awe that you will experience walking through the Great Hypostyle Hall.
You're transported back to 1500 years ago (at least)! The complex is actually built on and on and on by successive generations of pharaohs and so, there are different kinds of kiosks, obelisks and pylons (from separate time periods). The site actually cover 247 acres and is considered the largest temple complex built in the world. I tried to capture the moment with the video on my camera, but I think this is one place all VTers should visit themselves!
There are 134 massive columns about 50 feet (15 m) high and some at the center (twelve of them) are actually 69 feet. The structure actually had a roof before and there were probably statues of pharaohs in between the columns before...Whoever the architect was really achieved great effect!
I already went to the temple during daylight, but I also wanted to see it at night. So, my guides got the tickets for the evening show and we all went.
Karnak has a different aura at night and the nice thing was that it was a full moon that night. You are met at the avenue of the sphinxes and you are guided through the Great Hypostyle Hall (with voices already if I remember right) and then you go onto bleachers at the Sacred Lake. The narration is a bit overdramatic and I did not really follow the story too well... I was looking more at the surroundings and how nice, eerie and mysterious (are those the same adjectives?) the temple looked during the night. But be careful of the chilly cold desert and sometimes the wind (it could get really coooooold- I went during December when daylight was comfortable but night a little chilly in the desert).
Built by Thutmosis III, the Great Festival Hall (called Akh-Menou) was used in the celebration of the Pharaoh's 30th year of rule. It consists of a hypostyle hall with numerous columns which have conserved their original colours to this day. Beyond this hall are several chapels and chambers, as well as the "Botanical Gardens".
Bordering one side of the Great Court, the Second Pylon leads to the Great Hypostyle Hall. The Pylon was constructed by Pharaoh Horemheb (c. 1300 BC) in the post-Amarna period, when Egyptian orthodoxy was being restored. After the rebellious reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, all of the unorthodox temples they had built were dismantled and the stones were re-used as fillers in newer construction. Thus, the interior of the Second Pylon was filled with stones from temples built during the Amarna period. Ramses I and II added to the construction of the Second Pylon, particularly Ramses II who raised two colossal statues of himself and his family by the entrance.
Built in the 4th century BC by Nectanebo I of the last indigenous (30th) Dynasty, the enormous First Pylon was never actually completed. It faces the Nile and is twice the size of the First Pylon at the Temple of Luxor. Nowadays, this is the main entrance into the Temple of Amun, approached by the once spectacular Avenue of the Ram-Headed Sphinxes.
Considered the centre of Al Karnak, the enormous Precinct of Amun is the largest temple complex in the area. It is dominated by the Temple of Amun, which is surrounded by multiple smaller temples and chapels. The Precinct was the focus of Egyptian religion for centuries and took nearly 2000 years of continuous construction and expansion to reach the unimaginable size and composition we see today, measuring 260,000 sq metres! The Precinct of Amun is the main area open to visitors in al Karnak and might take multiple visits to fully appreciate its proportions.
For a few more photos, check out the next tips and the travelogue Precinct of Amun
The best preserved of the Pylons of the southern axis, the Eighth was built by Queen Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC. It is also the oldest Pylon in the southern axis, and currently marks the limit of the area open to the public. The Pylon itself was undergoing some restoration work upon my visit in December 2007. Beyond it are the last two Pylons, the Ninth and Tenth and an avenue of Sphinxes that leads to the Precinct of Mut.
The last two Pylons in the southern axis, numbered Ninth and Tenth, were both built by Horemheb around 1300 BC. As fillers in the pylons, he used stones from the destroyed Temple of the Aten, built by Akhenaten and later considered unorthodox. Both Pylons are undergoing some construction work where the interior stones were emptied out for reconstruction of the Temple of the Aten and were replaced by a steel structure to support the Pylons. Due to this major project, the whole area was closed off to visitors in December 2007.