The last attraction during the excursion to Luxor is the Luxor Temple, many tourists get very tired by the time they visit it, especially if all the interesting places in Luxor are shown to you in one day. If you arrive here tired, then we will delight you, this temple complex is much smaller in size than the Karnak temple, you can walk around it in less than an hour, and at the same time you will have time to see all the interesting things.
In ancient Thebes, the Luxor temple was considered secondary in comparison with the Karnak temple, although it was located right within the city limits, while the Karnak temples had to walk two kilometers.
A road with an avenue of sphinxes was organized between the two complexes, which is almost not preserved, it is now being actively restored. The ancient Egyptians staged a procession with statues of the gods between temples along this alley in honor of the holiday held during the flooding of the Nile.
The temple was founded by Pharaoh Amenhotep III – one of the greatest pharaohs. It is his huge statues, known as the Colossi of Memnon, that stand near the Nile.
After him, the temple was completed by other pharaohs, the greatest contribution was made by the pharaoh Ramses II, and the last extension was built already under Alexander the Great. In the Hellenistic period, no serious construction was carried out in the temple, and the Romans generally surrounded it with a wall and set up the headquarters of the Roman administration in Egypt here.
The Egyptians themselves called this place Ipet Resit, which translates as “southern sacred place.” However, this did not prevent the later Egyptians from forgetting about the cult significance of this place, and over time it became a residential part of the city.
At the time of the beginning of excavations by archaeologists, there were residential buildings and a mosque. The houses were removed from the archaeological site, but the mosque remained and is still in operation.
Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque, the mosque is not part of the tour, you can only look at it from the outside.
The tour starts from the main gate, which has one large obelisk. There used to be two of them, but one of them was taken from here to France, and now it stands on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. This obelisk was donated to the French by the Khedive (governor) Muhammad Ali, we wrote about it in detail in the article on the sights of Cairo.
It is a pity, but in connection with the “separation” of the two obelisks, we will not see their most interesting properties, the fact is that they were specially created of slightly different sizes, and at the required angles of view, the effect was created that they were of the same height. It is difficult to describe this, since now this effect can no longer be seen.
Also at the entrance to the temple there are two large statues depicting Pharaoh Ramses II, this entrance is generally dedicated to him and was built by him. The square outside the gate is also called the “great courtyard of Ramses II”, it is the largest square inside the temple, measuring 57 by 51 meters.
Along the perimeter are columns and large statues of the pharaoh, which are called “Colossi of Ramses II”.
Now let’s talk about what is not dedicated to Ramses on this square, there are only two such elements. Firstly, this is the mosque of the Sufi Sheikh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj, we have already mentioned it above. After the temple was abandoned, there was a Roman administration, and later, during the Byzantine Empire, there was a Christian church here, which has not survived to this day. The church was destroyed after the arrival of the Arabs in Egypt, they also built a mosque on this place.
The second element in the square, not dedicated to Ramses, is the small temple of Thutmose III. Pharaoh Thutmose III ruled long before Amenhotep III and, especially Ramses II, this small temple stood here before the construction of the large Luxor temple, just later, during the construction of the square, he organically merged into it.
After exploring this area, you will find yourself in an area that was built earlier by Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The great gate of Amenhotep III leads into it, through which you will find yourself in a long corridor with a colonnade named after him.
There are seven pairs of columns, each about 16 meters high. Once, even before the construction of the first square of Ramses II, it was the main entrance to the temple.
The temples of ancient Egypt were very different from those of today. Temples of major religions nowadays have large rooms for worshipers and rituals, while ancient Egyptian temples do not have such large areas.
There is an opinion among experts, and we agree with him based on the experience of visiting local sanctuaries, that temples were not used as a place for everyday prayers, rather they were places intended for large processions.
At the head of the most important processions, of course, was the Pharaoh, he presented gifts to the gods personally. During the period of the new kingdom, the pharaohs were considered the children of Amon-Ra himself.
After the colonnade, you will find yourself on a large rectangular area, this is the courtyard of Amenhotep III. It is slightly smaller than the first yard, 56 by 45 meters. From the point of view of design, it almost does not differ from the court of Ramses, two rows of columns are installed along the perimeter, but there are no large statues of the pharaoh, apparently Amenhotep III was more modest than his descendant.
Going further north, you will see columns, 4 rows of 8 pieces, and behind them the sanctuaries already begin.
The most interesting sanctuary is dedicated to the Pharaoh of Egypt, about whom everyone knows, but not many people know that he was a full-fledged pharaoh. His Egyptian name sounds like Setepenre-meruamun Alexander III, although we know him as Alexander (the Great of Macedon). Like all pharaohs, he was deified, and his sanctuary as a god is here.
One of the biggest scandals associated with the Luxor Temple is associated with these bas-reliefs. In 2013, an inscription in Chinese was found on the wall. One of the Chinese tourists wrote on the wall “Ding Jinhao was here”, the photo went around the world, was published on thousands of pages on social networks. Two days later, the inscription was erased.
The Chinese generally love to write on historical monuments; we showed the abundance of inscriptions on the Great Wall of China in our review of the excursion to it. Here is a photo of this inscription.
The second interesting place inside is called “Temple of the Birth of Amenhotep III”, the bas-relief depicts the story of the divine origin of the pharaoh.
Also inside there are temples of three gods: Amon-Ra, his wife, the goddess Mut and their son Khonsu, the god of the moon. These three gods were the most respected in ancient Thebes, almost all temples are dedicated to them, they were called the “Theban triad”. The name is a little creepy, but it has nothing to do with the mafia.
If your excursion to the temples of Luxor is designed for one day, then the Luxor temple, usually the last one on the list, appears to you already in the dark, in this case there is an illumination, the columns of the temple appear to you in an unusual form, which is even more interesting.
How to get there on your own
In Luxor, intercity buses stop near the train station. From here, go towards the Nile, after 500 meters you will find the Luxor Temple.
160 Egyptian pounds. The current rate of the pound in the article “What money is in Egypt.”
From 8-00 to 22-00.
Important and helpful tips
– On the way from the station to the temple there are restaurants, shops and exchange offices. If you have not changed your currency in advance, we recommend that you do it here. Read our review “Where to Change Money in Egypt”;
– If you are going to travel around Luxor by taxi, then see the official rates in our article “Taxi in Egypt”;
– After visiting the temple, you can take a ferry to the opposite bank of the Nile and watch the “City of the Dead” or walk along the Avenue of the Sphinxes to the Karnak Temple;
– Tourists on excursions along the Nile after inspection usually board a ship and sail to the next point – the Temple of Edfu.