Luxor Temple, Luxor

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    Luxor Temple

    by chizz Written Jan 11, 2009

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    Luxor Temple at dusk
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    Luxor Temple in it's central location facing the Nile was founded in 390 BC by Amenophis III, but work was halted on it by his son Akhenaten, then resumed by Tutanhkamun and Horemheb. Ramses II also added sections too during his reign. It was known as the "Harem of the South" due to fertility festivals being held there, resulting in much debauchery!
    It's nice to visit Luxor Temple at dusk to see it both in daylight and at night when it is lit up. It costs 50LE as of Nov. 2008 for adults, with concessions for students and children. There is a charge of 20LE to take camera tripods in too. The temple is open Oct-Apr 6am-9pm and May- Sep from 6am-10pm.
    At the entrance, flanked by 2 colossi of Ramses II, you will first see the great pylon. Beyond here is the Court of Ramses II with the remains of a Roman Fort to the right. From here a Colonnade takes you to the Court of Amenophis III and on to the Hypostyle Hall.
    The is also the Avenue of Sphinxes opposite the entrance pylon which is worth seeing.

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  • Luxor Temple

    by karensuzjo Written Aug 7, 2008
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    Very nice. Huge. Just inside the temple there is evidence of how the ancient Egyptians built the Temple and clues us into how they may have built the pyramids. Very interesting. Also, there is information within the heiroglyphs that depict the struggles the Egyptians had with various other people. Inside, there is a heiroglyph that has been scratched out and replaced with the name of Caesar within a cartouche. In that time, only kings and queens could have their names written inside cartouches because it implied their royalty. Caesar wanted to assert his power by doing this.

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    Temple of Amun

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008
    Preserved colours in the Offering Chapel
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    The Central Chamber of Amun leads into the most sacred parts of the Temple of Luxor. Consisting of several small chapels and chambers, this area is collectively referred to as the Temple of Amun. On either side of the Central Chamber are the chapels of Mut and Khonsu. Beyond is the four-column Offering Chapel, with wall decorations of offerings. Next to it is the Birth Room of Amenhotep III showing scenes of his conception and birth as a child of the gods. Further into the temple is the Barque Shrine, rebuilt by Alexander the Great, who is portrayed in the reliefs as a Pharaoh. The last section and the most sacred of all is the Sanctuary of Amenhotep III, where the statue of Amun made its final stop at the end of the Opet Festival.

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    The Roman Fort

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008
    Roman arches in the fortification
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    By the 3rd century AD, as its importance declined under the Romans, the Temple of Luxor was converted into a castrum (Roman fort) to defend the Empire's southern frontier (Limes Romanus) near Aswan. Fortified walls were constructed around the Temple using some of its own stones, including one of the Colossi of Ramses II (!), while the inner temple was converted into a sanctuary to the glory of Rome. Parts of the Roman wall are now exposed and partially restored (see attached photo). Interestingly, the word castrum probably has the same origin as the Arabic word qasr (palace or castle) from which the name Luxor or al-Uqsur, was derived.

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    Temple of Luxor

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008

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    Avenue of the Sphinxes leading to the Temple
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    Located by the Nile in the heart of modern Luxor, the Temple of Luxor is one of Ancient Egypt's most impressive temples. Although an older shrine existed on the site at least since the time of Queen Hatchepsut (~1460 BC), the Temple of Luxor was founded around 1380-1350 BC by the 18th Dynasty ruler Amenhotep III (also referred to as Amenophis III) and dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The Temple, named Ipet-resyt in Ancient Egypt, was greatly expanded by the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh, Ramses II. Some additions followed by later rulers, such as Alexander the Great, and continued until the Temple was converted into a fort by the Romans in the 3rd century AD. Over the years, the Temple was forgotten and became buried under silt and sand, and a small village developed on top of the ruins. It was not until the 19th century AD that the Temple of Luxor was discovered and the whole village was relocated for the excavations to occur. Only the 11th century AD Mosque of Abu el Haggag was preserved, now hanging over the ruins of the Temple. Most striking, though, is the very existence of this incredible temple, along with the mosque atop it, in the middle of the ordinary daily life of the inhabitants of Luxor.

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    Luxor Temple - First Pylon

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008

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    The First Pylon & Colossi of Ramses II
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    Added by Ramses II (19th Dynasty) around 1270-1250 BC, the First Pylon speaks to the grandeur of the reign of the Pharaoh. The imposing structure is carved with sunken reliefs - now somewhat difficult to discern - describing the Pharaoh's successes in the famous Battle of Qadesh in Syria against the Hittites. The much reproduced image of Ramses II, with a bow and arrow riding a horse-drawn chariot, is depicted on the façade, along with masses of losing Hittite enemy warriors. In addition to the two obelisks placed in front, six colossal statues of the Pharaoh (four seated and two standing) guarded the First Pylon. Only one of the standing statues remains in place, while two seated colossi continue to flank the grand entrance to this day.

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    Ramses II

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008

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    Colossus of Ramses II in the Courtyard at Luxor
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    One of the longest ruling Pharaohs, Ramses II left the world with some of the most impressive of Ancient Egyptian architecture. His reign, from about 1279 to 1213 BC was glorified in 1275 BC through his victory against the Hittites in the Battle of Qadesh in Syria. He was a great builder determined to eternalise himself through his many temples, and that he did, portraying himself as a warrior Pharaoh in the Battle of Qadesh in nearly every one of his constructions. His enlargement of the Temple of Luxor is one of his many great accomplishments. Others include his own temple and that of his wife Nefertari at Abu Simbel, his funerary temple named the Ramesseum in the Necropolis of Thebes, and significant enlargements at the Temple of Karnak. More statues of Ramses II have survived to this day than any other Pharaoh, perhaps making his portrait the most recognisable of all.

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    Central Chamber of Amun

    by MM212 Updated Feb 6, 2008
    Roman Frescoes
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    The Central Chamber of Amun, or the Antechamber, is the first section of the most sacred parts of the temple, known collectively as the Temple of Amun. I found this chamber to be the most striking part of the Temple of Luxor. During Roman times, it was converted into a cult sanctuary and the walls were covered in plaster and painted with Roman-style frescoes. The entrance into the rest of the temple was remodelled and some Roman columns were erected. Incredibly, these frescoes have survived to this day, though are deteriorating rapidly, and stand out of place amid hieroglyphs elsewhere in the Temple. Upon my visit in Dec 2007, a restoration project was in process to help mitigate the deterioration of the frescoes. This chamber was once covered, but the ceiling has not survived. On either side are the Chapels of Mut and Khonsu.

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    Peristyle Court of Amenhotep III

    by MM212 Updated Feb 5, 2008
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    From the Grand Colonnade, the Perystyle Court of Amenhotep III is reached. The large open space is surrounded by porticos made up of double columns with papyrus-bud capitals. The portico was once covered and enclosed in an outer wall, but neither the ceiling nor the wall has survived. During a restoration project in 1989, workers found a large number of statues of deities and pharoahs buried in this courtyard. Those statues are now exhibited at the Luxor Museum and are thought to have been buried possibly during the Christianisation of Egypt. The Court leads onto the Hypostyle Hall.

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    The Hypostyle Hall

    by MM212 Updated Feb 5, 2008
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    The Hypostyle Hall is a continuation of the Court of Amenhotep III on its southern side. It is made up of 32 columns with papyrus capitals, identical to those in the court. The effect of the four rows of columns is quite mesmerising. The Hypostyle Hall was once covered and was considered the first section of the inner temple and leads into the more sacred part.

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    Great Court of Ramses II

    by MM212 Updated Feb 4, 2008
    The Court of Ramses II
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    Past the First Pylon of the Temple of Luxor, one enters into the Great Court of Ramses II. Although hardly noticeable to the eye, the Court is in fact a parallelogram and was constructed at this slight angle in order to align the new construction with the Avenue of the Sphinxes. The spacious courtyard is surrounded by a double columned portico and the Triple Shrine Barque. The Mosque of Abu el-Haggag and the early Christian Church underneath it occupy about a quarter of the courtyard, with the mosque's previous entrance rather comically hanging above the Temple. Between the lotus-bud columns of the portico are colossal statues of a standing Ramses II, still eerily gazing at the courtyard as he has for thousands of years. Two seated colossal statues of Ramses II flank the entrance into the next section of the Temple: the Colonnade of Amenhotep III.

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    The Colonnade of Amenhotep III

    by MM212 Updated Feb 4, 2008
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    From the Court of Ramses II, one enters into the Grand Colonnade of Amenhotep III, dating from around 1360 BC. Fourteen columns of papyrus capitals, seven on each side, make up this section of the temple. A roof once covered the Colonnade and, prior to the expansion by Ramses II, its northern end was the front entrance into the temple and was closed off with a large gate. The walls on either side of the Colonnade are decorated with scenes from the Opet Festival, though these date from the reign of Tutankhamun and celebrate the return to orthodoxy after the deviance of the previous Pharaoh Akhenaten who attempted to change religion. The Colonnade leads into the Court of Amenhotep III.

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    Triple Barque Shrine

    by MM212 Updated Feb 3, 2008
    Triple Barque Shrine
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    Predating the construction of Ramses II, the Triple Barque Shrine was an important part of the Opet Festival. It is made up of three chapels, each designated to one of the triad dieties, Amun, Mut and Khonsu (father, mother and son), to whom the entire Temple of Luxor was dedicated. Upon arrival of the procession from the Temple of Karnak, the barques carrying the statues of the gods were placed in the chapels before the final ceremonies. Due to the sanctity of the Triple Barque Shrine, it was incorporated into the construction by Ramses II and so opens to the Courtyard. It is said that the structure was moved to accommodate the new construction and in doing so, Ramses II replaced the names of Pharaohs Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III with his own.

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    Ruins of Roman Churches

    by MM212 Updated Feb 1, 2008

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    Byzantine-period crosses & Egyptian Hieroglyphs
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    As the Roman Empire embraced Christianity, the Temple of Luxor had already been converted into a fort and enclosed within outer walls. Several churches were subsequently built inside the enlarged complex, one of which is said to exist underneath the Mosque of Abu el-Haggag. Other churches lie in ruins outside the Temple, with some columns partially reconstructed in recent times. Also scattered around the complex are many fallen stone blocks showing Byzantine-period crosses and Egyptian hieroglyphs lying side-by-side (see attached photos).

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    Mosque of Abu el-Haggag

    by MM212 Updated Feb 1, 2008
    Dome of Abu el-Haggag
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    Sitting atop the ruins of the Temple of Luxor, the Mosque of Abu el-Haggag is named after a 13th century Sufi sheikh of Damascene origin. Abu el-Haggag has become some sort of a local patron saint whose birthday is celebrated annually among the locals two weeks before Ramadan. Many historians believe the celebration to be a direct descendant of the Pharaonic solar barque procession during the Opet Festival because of the boats carried down the streets in today's celebration! Although the mosque structure was built in the 13th century, the minaret is known to be at least two centuries older. The existence of this out of place mosque, sitting atop the ruins of the Temple of Luxor, is almost comical. When the entire village of Luxor was moved to make way for excavations, locals protested the contemplated destruction due to the mosque's spiritual value and successfully ensured its survival. For this reason, the area underneath the mosque, thought to also contain an ancient church, will likely never be excavated.

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