The Luxor temple was built during the New Kingdom, around 1400 BC. The temple in Luxor, Egypt, is dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut and Khonsu and is home to the most important religious festival in ancient Egypt, the Opet Festival. During this festival, the statues of Amun, Mut and Khonsu were taken from Karnak to Luxor temple. Therefore, this temple is not aligned with the Nile river line like the rest of the ancient Egyptian temples. On the contrary, it aligns with the line of the Karnak temple.
Location of Luxor Temple
History of the Temple
The temple at Luxor, Egypt, is first mentioned in stars found in the stone quarry at Maasara, east of Memphis, dating from Ahmose I. These stars recorded the excavation of limestone for building this temple. in the construction of temples, including the Luxor Temple, named “House of Amun in the Southern Sanctuary.” The oldest structure discovered at Luxor dates from the reign of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. However, Ramses II later extended and remodelled the altar they built before. Tutankhamun also made much of the details seen in the temple, but Ramses II and Horemheb later mastered these.
Ancient History of the Temple
Modern History of the Temple
Structure of the Luxor Temple
In ancient times, Egyptians connected the Temple of Luxor to the Temple of Karnak by a long alley, which led directly to the first pillar. Hatshepsut built this alley, and later, Amenhotep III added some ram-headed sphinxes to the edges of the passage. Nectanebo I surrounded the entire complex temple with a brick wall. Currently, archaeologists constructed an entrance to the temple through a gate built during the Roman period.
The entrance to the temple opens where visitors can see the first pillar. Ramses II built this pillar and decorated it with scenes from his military triumph at the Battle of Kadesh; and other scenes from his military expeditions. Over the years, the other pharaohs have added scenes from their military triumphs to the first pillar. At the entrance OF the Temple of Luxor, Egypt, there were once six massive statues of Ramses. Two of these statues were sitting down, and the other four were standing, but today only the two statues sitting below are still somewhat intact.
Also, at the entrance, visitors can see a 25-meter obelisk made of pink granite, also built by Ramses II. Next to it, there is an identical obelisk to the one in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. After passing the first pillar, visitors enter a courtyard surrounded by columns, where there are giant statues of Amenhotep III. The four sacred baboons, which greet the sun at sunrise, are carved on the pedestal. Also, visitors can see the names and epitaphs of Ramses on each side of the obelisk.
Visitors can reach the processional colonnade from this courtyard, built by Amenhotep III. In this colonnade, there are 14 columns, 7 in each row. Tutankhamun, Seti I and Horemheb added decorations to this arcade. At the entrance to the arcade are two statues representing Tutankhamun, but on each figure, Ramses II wrote his name. Ancient Egyptians decorated the walls with scenes depicting moments from the Opet Festival. Other decorations show the return of Amun and other traditional gods after the Amarna heresy of the 14th century BC, which had lasted for 20 years. Though Horemheb removed and replaced Tutankhamun’s name with his own, these decorations belong to Tutankhamun.
After the colonnade of Amenhotep III, this pharaoh built another courtyard. In addition, there are double rows of columns in this courtyard. Also, at the southern end, there are altars dedicated to Mut and Khonsu. Archaeologists found Some statues under the floor of this courtyard, which tourists can now admire in the Luxor Museum. The decorations in this courtyard depict the coronation of Amenhotep III by the gods. A hypostyle courtyard consisting of 32 columns leads to the sanctuary inside the temple in the southern part of the courtyard. Ancient Egyptians dedicated an altar to the Roman Emperor Constantine to the left central passage.
There is an antechamber in the Temple of Luxor with four columns and decorations depicting Amenhotep II offering incense to the god Amun. A dark antechamber reaches the sanctuary with eight columns, used as a temple during the Roman period. That is why the Roman decorations cover the original Egyptian decorations. Nevertheless, visitors can still see them in some places where the paint was peeled. Behind the anterooms is an altar, built by Amenhotep III and later rebuilt by Alexander the Great, in which priests placed the statue of Amun during the Opet Festival. Also, there existed the Nativity altar of Amenhotep III – where priests proclaimed the divine origin of the king. Moreover, exist three private chambers belonging to the deities.
Pharaoh Taharqa dedicated a chapel to the goddess Hathor, and Shabaka built an arcade. However, these two buildings were destroyed. The Romans built a fort here in 1500; they were stationed in this fort. Hadrian built a small brick altar here in honour of Serapis, but all that remains of this structure is a statue of Isis and some rubble.
Copts built a Christian basilica in the northeast corner of the temple, and later, Muslims dedicated a mosque to Sheikh Abu Hagag on the ruins of the basilica. The temple in Luxor is full of mystery and history and is one of the most beautiful ancient buildings.