Ancient Egyptian Temples

Ancient Egyptian Temples

The ancient Egyptians built their temples for the official worship of the gods and the commemoration of the pharaohs. They made them in ancient Egypt and areas under Egyptian control, too. According to the ancient Egyptians, these temples were dwellings of the deities. Based on the ancient Egyptian religion, the king of ancient Egypt was the son of the gods. Thus, we may say that the ancient Egyptians also worshipped the pharaoh of Egypt in these temples. Within these Ancient Egyptian temples, the priests performed a variety of rituals.

Use of the Ancient Egyptian Temples

The ancient Egyptian cult focused on three essential elements: offering sacrifices to the gods, celebrating religious festivals, and overcoming the forces of chaos. These rituals were necessary for the ancient Egyptian divinities to continue adhering to the “Maat” – the universe’s divine order. The housing and patronage of the gods were the duties of the pharaohs. For this reason, pharaohs devoted enormous resources to the construction and maintenance of the Ancient Egyptian temple. However, it was optional that Pharaohs do the duties themselves as they delegated most of their ritual duties to a group of priests. At the same time, most of the population could not participate directly in these rituals or enter the holiest areas of the temple. However, the temple was an important religious site for all Egyptians, who prayed, gave offerings, and sought guidance from the deities.

Structure of the Ancient Egyptian Temples

The most sacred part of the temple was the sanctuary, which usually contains a cult image and a statue of God. With temples developing, this sanctuary grew over time from small shrines, in late prehistoric Egypt, to the large stone rock towers, in the modern kingdom (1550-1070 BC). This tower is among the most prominent and most consistent examples of Egyptian architecture. The ancient Egyptian architecture arranged and decorated the edifice elements according to the patterns of complex religious symbols. Its typical design consists of a series of closed halls, open courts and entry columns adjoining the path used in the processions of festivals. The rooms outside were more extensive and more elaborate.

With the advent of Christianity, the traditional Egyptian religion faced increasing neglect. The Egyptians continued to build temples despite the nation’s retreat and the eventual loss of independence during the Roman Empire in 30 B.C. Moreover, thus, the temple communities disappeared during the fourth to sixth centuries. The buildings they left behind suffered centuries of destruction and decay.

List of the Ancient Egyptian Temples

The following is a listing of some Ancient Egyptian temples. We ordered them according to their following location from the south of the country to the north:

Temples of Abu Simbel

The Temples of Abu Simbel are the most famous rock-cut temples in Egypt. These temples exist near the modern village of Abu Simbel, at the Second Nile Cataract. In other words, it lies at the border between Lower Nubia and Upper Nubia. There are two of them: The Great Temple belongs to Ramses II, while he dedicated the Small Temple to his wife, Queen Amun-her-Khepeshef.

Temple of Kalabsha

The Temple of Kalabsha is a Greco-roman one. It lies 56 km south of the city of Aswan, Aswan governorate. This temple initially existed at Bab al-Kalabsha, ancient Egyptian Talmis.

Undoubtedly, Kalabsha is the finest example of a freestanding temple in Nubia after the Temples of Abu Simbel. They call it “The Temple of Mandulis”, as well. Historically, the Ancient Egyptians dedicated it to Isis, Osiris and Horus-Mandulis (the Roman aspect of the Nubian solar God, Merul). The building represents the finest example of a freestanding temple in Nubia after the Temples of Abu Simbel. They call it “The Temple of Mandulis“, as well.

Temple of Beit el Wali

The Temple of Beit el-Wali is a rock-cut ancient Egyptian temple in Nubia built by Pharaoh Ramesses II and dedicated to the deities of Amun-Re, Re-Horakhti, Khnum and Anuket. It was the first in a series of temples built by Ramesses II in this region. Its name Beit el-Wali means ‘House of the Holy Man’ may indicate its previous use by a Christian hermit at some point in time.

Kiosk of Qertassi

The Kiosk of Qertassi is a tiny Roman kiosk with four slender papyrus columns inside and two Hathor columns at the entrance. It is a small but elegant unfinished structure and not inscribed with the architect’s name but is probably contemporary with Trajan’s Kiosk at Philae.

Temple of Ptah

The temple of Gerf Hussein (in Ancient Egypt: Per Ptah, or ‘House of Ptah‘) was dedicated to pharaoh Ramesses II and built by the Setau, Viceroy of Nubia. It was dedicated to “Ptah, Ptah-Tatenen and Hathor, and associated with Ramesses, ‘the Great God.’”

Temples of Philae

The Temples of Philae lie on one of the islands in the Nile River. The ancient Egyptian name of Philae was Pilak, from which the Greek and Latin name “Philae” comes. Its original place was on Philae Island in Aswan. During the Islamic era, it was known to the local people as El-Qasr, the “Castle,” or as Geziret Anas el-Wogud. The name “Geziret Anas el-Wogud” comes after a hero of one of the “Arabian Nights” tales who traced his beloved to the island. According to this tale, the beloved’s father had locked her up on this island.

Temple of Dakka

Ad-Dakka was a place in Lower Nubia. It is the site of the Greco-Roman Temple of Dakka, dedicated to Thoth, the god of wisdom in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

Temple of Amada

The Temple of Amada, the oldest Egyptian temple in Nubia, was first constructed by Pharaoh Thutmose III of the 18th dynasty and dedicated to Amun and Re-Horakhty. His son and successor, Amenhotep II, continued the decoration program for this structure.

Temple of Maharraqa

The Temple of Al-Maharraqa is an ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to Isis and Serapis. The Temple of Maharraqa, the smallest of the three at Wadi As Sebua, originally stood 40km north at the ancient site of Ofendina. Dedicated to Isis and Serapis, the Alexandrian god, its decorations were never finished. All that remains is a small hypostyle hall, wherein the northeast corner, a spiral staircase of masonry leads up to the roof.

Temple of Kom Ombo

The Temple of Kom Ombo is a double temple in the town of Kom Ombo in Aswan Governorate, Upper Egypt. The building is unique because its design consists of two adjoined sections. In other words, there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods.

Temple of Horus at Edfu

The Temple of Horus in Edfu is one of Egypt’s most impressive and well-preserved temples. This temple stands on the west bank of the Nile in Edfu, Aswan Governorate. Exceptionally, it is the largest temple dedicated to Horus and Hathor.

Temple of Khnum

Romans dedicated the temple of Esna to the god Khnum, his consorts Menhit and Nebtu, their son, Heka, and the goddess Neith. Indeed, it was remarkable for the beauty of its site and the magnificence of its architecture. Historically, the roman rulers built the Esna temple of red sandstone. Its portico consisted of six rows of four columns each, with lotus-leaf capitals. Uniquely, the temple contains the very late hieroglyphic inscriptions dating from the reign of Decius (249–251 AD).

Abydos Temple complex

The Abydos Temple Complex is located in Abydos Village, in the modern Egyptian town Al-Balyana, south of Sohag governorate. It stands about 11 kilometres west of the Nile River at a latitude of 26° 10′ N. During ancient Egypt, Abydos was the capital of the eighth Nome.

Temple of Seti I at Abydos

The temple of Seti I, also known as the Great Temple of Abydos, is one of the main historical sites in Abydos. The temple was built by pharaoh Seti I. At the rear of the temple, there is the Osireion.

Ramesses II temple at Abydos

The adjacent temple of Ramesses II was much smaller and more straightforward in the plan. Still, it had an excellent historical series of scenes around the outside that lauded his achievements, of which the lower parts remain. Ancient Egyptians decorated the temple’s exterior with scenes of the Battle of Kadesh. AHis list of pharaohs, similar to that of Seti I, formerly stood here; the French consul removed the fragments and sold them to the British Museum.

Temple of Ahmose I

The Temple of Ahmose I is a monumental cult complex erected by Pharaoh Ahmose I (ca. 1550-1525 B.C.) in South Abydos, Egypt. It consisted of the last known royal pyramid complex constructed in Egypt and other contemporary structures. Mace and Charles T. Currently initially identified it between 1899 and 1902.

Medinet Habu Temple

Medinet Habu Temple is properly the memorial temple of the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III. This pharaoh ruled Egypt from 1185 to 1153 BC. The concept of a funeral temple typically originated during the glorious era of the New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC. Historically, this period witnessed the most extraordinary flourishing of statehood and the establishment of many temples and monuments.

Temple of Amenhotep III

The Temple of Amenhotep III is one of the fantastic temples on the west bank of the Nile River in the Theban Necropolis, Luxor governorate. Amenhotep III, pharaoh of the Dynasty XVIII, built this temple in about 1400 BC, where the ancient Egyptians worshipped him as a god.

Temples of Karnak

The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the needed time to build and develop it. It took a long time to arrive at its final shape. Here, we are not talking about a single temple; but a complex of temples. As an ancient Egyptian temple, its construction started in the Middle Kingdom and continued to Ptolemaic times. Thus, almost all the rulers of Ancient Egypt left their mark in this vast and colossal complex. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings.

This construction and renovation process has led to size, complexity, and diversity. It is the largest religious building ever made, covering about 200 acres! Besides, it was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years.

Temple of Amenhotep IV

The Temple of Amenhotep IV was an ancient monument at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. The structures were used during the New Kingdom, in the first four years of the 18th Dynasty reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, when he still used Amenhotep IV. The edifices may have been constructed at the end of his father’s reign, Amenhotep III, and completed by Akhenaten.

Precinct of Mut

The Precinct of Mut is an Ancient Egyptian temple compound located in the present city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) on the east bank of the Nile in South Karnak. The compound is one of the four fundamental ancient temples that creates the Karnak Temple Complex.

Barque Temple of Ramesses III

The Temple of Ramesses III, also known as the Barque Temple of Ramesses III, is a barque-chapel complex located south of the second pylon of the Karnak Temple

Temple of Hatshepsut

The Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir El Bahari is one of the most prominent temples we have in Egypt. It lies on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Luxor governorate. It is a semi-rock-carved temple. This aspect was unusual for that time. Indeed, Queen Hatshepsut’s temple became an absolute engineering marvel of the ancient builders. Now, we consider it one of the most famous structures of ancient Egyptian architecture.

Temple of Thutmose III

Deir el-Bahari is the home of the temple of Thutmose III. Located in the Deir el-Bahari valley, the temple sits on a rocky platform. Hence, it dominates over the other structures. The Temple of Hatshepsut and Mentuhotep Nebhepetre surround the design itself.

These particular Ancient Egyptian temples date back to the Eleventh dynasty. These temples, along with the temple of Thutmose III, form a splendid relic of ancient Egypt.

Temple of Mentuhotep II

The Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II at the west bank of Luxor, in Deir el-Bahari, is a terraced mortuary temple from the 11th Dynasty, built by the Pharao Mentuhotep II, who united Egypt at the end of the First Intermediate Period. It represents the architectural change from the pyramids of the Old Kingdom to the houses of millions of years from the New Kingdom. The site was excavated by Henri Edouard Naville (1903-1907), by a team from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts directed by Herbert Winlock (1911-1931) and by Dieter Arnold for the German Archeological Institute (1968-1971).

Ramesseum Temple

The warrior pharaoh Ramses II built the Ramesseum temple in the 13th century BC. It is part of the Theban necropolis in Upper Egypt, near the modern city of Luxor. The temple is a funeral one.

Temple of Merenptah

The mortuary temple of Merenptah (Merneptah), Ramesses II‘s thirteenth son and successor, mainly was destroyed long ago. Nevertheless, recently has been restored to a large degree and is one of the newest sites on the west bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) available for sightseeing. In addition, the ministry of antiquities built a modern museum near the temple complex to display items unearthed during the excavations.

Temple of Seti I

The Mortuary Temple of Seti I is the memorial temple (or mortuary temple) of the New Kingdom Pharaoh Seti I. It is located in the Theban Necropolis in Upper Egypt, across the Nile River from the modern city of Luxor (Thebes). The edifice lies near the town of Qurna.

El Shelwit Temple

El-Shelwit Temple is a Roman-era (1st-2nd century C.E.) sandstone temple located on Luxor’s West Bank. It is a small temple composed of a central chamber, or naos, with a surrounding corridor, four side chapels and a roof terrace. Ancient Egyptians decorated the façade and interior walls of the naos with intricately painted high-relief with inscriptions and scenes of Roman emperors making offerings to Egyptian gods. The project to conserve Deir el Shelwit was initiated in 2012 as a collaboration between the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and the Supreme Council of Antiquities to open it to public visitation.

Palace of Amenhotep III

Malkata (or Malqata; literally ’ the place where things are picked up) is the site of an Ancient Egyptian palace complex built during the New Kingdom by the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III. The site also included a temple dedicated to Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife, Tiy, which honours Sobek, the crocodile deity.

Temple of Satet

The Temple of Satet or Satis is an ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to the goddess Satet, a personification of the Nile inundation. As pharaohs founded it during the late Predynastic Period around 3200 BC, they enlarged and renovated it several times. These innovations took place from the Early Dynastic Period onwards over the next 3000 years until the Ptolemaic Period. The temple of Satet is the best example of an ancient Egyptian temple whose construction is attested over the entire pharaonic period.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple is an Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes, Luxor governorate. Amenhotep III (1390-52 B.C.) built this temple, but Tutankhamun (1336-27 B.C.) and Horemheb (1323-1295 BC) completed it. Finally, Ramses II (1279-13 B.C.) added his temples. At the same time, we can see a granite shrine toward the rear, which the Greeks dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305 BC).

Temples of Dendera

The Complex Temple of Dendera is one of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt. In addition, the whole complex covers some 40,000 square meters, and a big mud-brick enclosed wall surrounds it. Ancient Egyptians used this area as the sixth Nome of Upper Egypt, south of Abydos.

Temple of Athribis

Athribis “Nag Sheikh Hamad now” is located about 7 km west of Sohag, Sohag governorate. It was the ancient city affiliated with the ninth region of the ancient towns of Egypt. The site of Athribis is an integrated archaeological city known as “whale-repyt” after the goddess Repyt. The local goddess, Lady Athribis, appears in a female lion. Moreover, the Ancient Athribis contains the ruins of Athribis Temple.

Great Temple of Aten

The Great Temple of the Aten (or the pr-Jtn, House of the Aten) was located in el-Amarna (ancient Akhetaten), Egypt. It served as the central place of worship of the deity Aten during the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten (c. 1353–1336 BCE). Akhenaten ushered in a unique period of ancient Egyptian history by establishing the new religious cult dedicated to the sun-disk Aten.

Small Aten Temple

The Small Aten Temple is a temple to the Aten located in the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna. It is one of the two major temples in the town, the other being the Great Temple of the Aten. Originally known as the Hwt-Jtn or Mansion of the Aten, ancient Egyptians probably constructed it before the more prominent Great Temple.

Medinet Madi

Medinet Madi is a site in the southwestern Faiyum region of Egypt with a Greco-Roman town where ancients found a temple of the cobra-goddess Renenutet (a harvest deity) during the reigns of Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV (1855–1799 BC). Rulers later expanded and embellished it during the Greco-Roman period. In the Middle Kingdom, ancient Egyptians called the town Dja; and in the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, Narmuthis.

Temple of Hibis

The Temple of Hibis is the largest and best-preserved ancient Egyptian temple in the Kharga Oasis. Moreover, it is the only structure in Egypt dating to the Saite-Persian period (664–404 BCE) down to modern times in relatively good condition. Located about 2 km north of Kharga, ancient Egyptians religiously devoted it to a syncretism of two local forms of the deity Amun. These forms are “Amun of Hibis” and “Amun-Ra of Karnak who dwells in Hibis”.

Temple of El Zayyan

One of the significant monuments of the Kharga Oasis is the Graeco-Roman temple of Qasr El Zayyan, in the ancient village of Takhoneourit. The unexcavated town was an essential stop on the desert route to Esna. Ancients dedicated the small sandstone temple, part of a fortress, to Amon-Hibis. It incorporates a court that directs to the sanctuary with a beautiful cult niche; and a chamber with a staircase leading to the roof.

Temple of Dush

Dush is an archaeological site in El Kharga Oasis, in the Western Desert of Egypt. Dedicated to SerapisIsis and Harpocrates, the Temple of Dush (known as Kysis) dates back to the Roman Period. Dush was a religious, military and civilian complex that primarily developed due to the slave trade. In addition to being a settlement, it was a cult and army centre on the slave trade route and station for the caravans crossing the desert. It was also a staging point for caravans headed to Assiut or Esna.

Valley Temple of Khafre

The Valley Temple is built of megalithic blocks sheathed in red granite and is very similar to the Mortuary Temple. The exterior made of limestone is much more weathered. The square pillars of the T-shaped hallway were made of solid granite, which is remarkably well-preserved, and the floor was paved in alabaster. This valley temple was part of the funerary complex, including the pyramid (with its burial chamber), a mortuary temple (joining the pyramid on its east side), and a covered causeway leading to the valley temple. 

Tanis

Tanis, biblical Zoan, modern San Al-Hagar al-Qibliyyah is an ancient city in the Nile River delta, capital of the 14th nome (province) of Lower Egypt and, at one time, of the whole country. The city was important as one of the nearest ports to the Asiatic seaboard.

Bubastis

Bubastis, also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or Per-Bast, was an ancient Egyptian city. This city is often identified with the biblical Pi-Beseth (Hebrew: פי-בסת py-bst, Ezekiel 30:17). It was the capital of its nome, located along the Nile River in the Delta region of Lower Egypt. It was notable as a centre of worship for the feline goddess Bastet and, therefore, the principal depository in Egypt of mummies of cats. 

Temple of Bastet

The temple of Bastet is one of the main cult temples of the goddess Bastet in the Old Kingdom, which was associated with fertility and often acted as a protective deity. Ancient Egyptians depicted Bastet as a lioness and later as a cat.

Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus is a Graeco-Roman temple dedicated to the god Zeus Caseous, which lies in the Tell Farama site, Port Said Governorate, northwestern Sinai Peninsula.

Temple of Nadura

Nadura Temple is an archaeological temple located in the Kharga Oasis in the New Valley Governorate. It was a meeting place for all the commercial caravans that came through the Darb Al-Arba’een in the Paris Oasis, starting from Darfur in Sudan and ending at Assiut Governorate.

Ghweita Temple

Al-Ghweita Temple, or Al-Ghouita Palace Temple, is one of the archaeological temples located in the south of the city of Kharga, in the New Valley Governorate. It stands 3 kilometres away on the Kharga-Paris road on a high site above the earth’s surface. Visitors to the temple can see mountains, sand, and greenery. The temple has the periods that the oases passed through in ancient times.

Temple of the Oracle

Temple of the Oracle stands 4 km east of Siwa oasis on the Aghurmi plateau, which rises 30 metres southwest of the Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrouh.

1 thought on “Ancient Egyptian Temples

  1. Coming to Egypt means visiting so many temples out here. All are rich in history so it sis difficult to explain in ]articular about all of them. They all are in their individual capacity excellent marvels of architecture and the best way to enjoy them is to visit each and every one of them. We must also keep in mind that the Ancient Egyptians were not only religious but also god-fearing. they also worshiped the King as God and also built temples for them something which is unique in Egyptian History. Do visit all the possible temples all over Egypt.

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