The warrior pharaoh Ramses II built the Ramesseum temple during his reign 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.
At present, only a tiny part of this historical structure survives. However, archaeologists do not stop excavating and find more and more facts that connect this temple with the history of Ancient Egypt. The temple lies in ruins, but it reveals it was a majestic structure even from these ruins. The architecture is identical to the construction of Medinet Habu, but the dimensions are much more significant.
Location of Ramesseum Temple
History of Ramesseum
Ramses III ascended his throne during a drought when he was about 20 years old. Pharaoh Ramses II is famous for the fact that he ruled for 67 years. Thus, Ramses ruled the country longer than other rulers in the continuous history of Egypt. Under his rule, Ancient Egyptians built a considerable number of architectural monuments with large-scale dimensions.
The temple is known for its name, thanks to the famous French Egyptologist, who in 1829 found signs and hieroglyphs in it with the data of Pharaoh Ramses. Even the most ancient inhabitants of Egypt called this temple “The House of Millions of Years.” It is one of the most ambitious structures of those times. This site is home to the legendary fallen colossus, which was an inspiration for Percy Bysshe Shelley to write the famous poem Ozymandias.
The Architecture of the Temple
The entire layout of the temple is very typical for the New Kingdom era. According to it, the courtyards are located directly behind the pylons. The pillars here are in the form of papyrus; there is a hall for the sacred barque of the god and an inner sanctuary. Passing into the temple’s depths, one can notice that the floor is rising, and the ceiling, on the contrary, is falling. It was created to remind people of the times when the Egyptian universe was created from a primordial hill that rose from the endless waters of the flood.
The two towers at the entrance pylon are badly damaged. When you go inside the northern tower, you can contemplate the scenes of the Egyptian camp, and on the back of the building – the battle scenes. On the southeast side of the First Court, there are the remains of the giant colossus of the pharaoh. Without a doubt, one of the massive stones ever created. All the remaining parts of this colossal granite statue are perfectly carved and polished. These parts represent the chest, upper arm and leg of this pharaoh. After taking all measurements, archaeologists assumed that the entire statue was more than 17 meters high, and its weight was at least 10,000 tons. The Ancient Egyptian builders brought the rock of the colossus from the quarries of Aswan.
Pylon and Courtyards
The Ramesseum Temple is oriented from the east to the west. It originates from the eastern side, with a high ruined pylon. Further, behind the pylon is an open courtyard. On the southern side of the wall were pillars against which the statues of the king in the guise of the god Osiris leaned. On the other side of the courtyard, a facade of the castle, was a portico of two columns. The pylon, which was located in the second courtyard, served as the western wall of the courtyard. The second courtyard was at a significantly higher level, in contrast to the first. One could get to the passage through a staircase. On both sides of the stairs were two gigantic statues of Ramses II, each 20 meters high.
On the right side of the passage, you can see many scenes of the battle between Kadesh and Ramses in his chariot. This scene shows the enemy pierced by arrows or trampled under the feet of horses.
The first and second pylons of this temple are decorated with powerful scenes of a significant battle. This scene describes the courage of Ramses II that saved all Egyptians from the defeat of the Hittites. For sure, it would have been a shame for them.
There were pillars square in cross-section from the western and eastern parts, against which the statues of Osiris learned. Along with the northern and southern parts, there were porticoes of a double row of even columns with capitals in the form of buds.
There is no doubt that the interest of the Egyptians in art, in this place, passed into complete submission to architecture. The huge statues located here seems to be regular columns and not as works of sculpture. Thus, they are inferior to architecture.
Colonnade and Sanctuary
If you go through the second courtyard, you can see the colonnade from all four sides and the terrace from the back. On the central staircase, on each side, are the monoliths of the pharaoh. In front of the entrance to the courtyard, there were even more statues of Pharaoh Ramses, supported by Osirid columns. The scenes shown on the pillars show the Pharaoh offering gifts to the deities. The exit follows the sizeable hypostyle hall. Two rows of columns stand in the middle. These columns resemble an open papyrus flower and rise above the side aisles, where the columns are crowned with bud-shaped capitals. Behind the hypostyle hall, there exists a sanctuary, which consists of several rooms.
Castle of Ramses II in the Ramesseum Temple
The castle of Pharaoh Ramses exists in the northern part of the first courtyard. It contains a vestibule, a vast reception hall of 16 columns, the king’s chambers and a majestic throne room. There is a harem at the back of this palace. The outstanding feature of this complex is that it has a temple, a castle, living rooms, stables, warehouses and many different premises. All gathers in one massive complex.