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Because of its long history of construction and functionality, the gods worshipped at Karnak range from some of the earliest Egyptian deities to some of the latest, thus offering an impressive presentation of ancient Egyptian religious practices and beliefs. Enter your keywords.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Luxor, Egypt. Background The Karnak temple complex at Luxor developed over more than 1, years, principally between the Twelfth and Twentieth Dynasties. Why It Matters The Karnak Temple is a massive temple complex to which dozens of pharaohs added their own constructions. You can feel the ancient history. It is alive, as it swirls around you. It was also called Pr-Imn, or the House of Amon. The name Al-Karnak in Arabic was derived from Karnak, which means fortified village, probably because the Arabs found many temples and buildings in the area when they entered it for the first time.

Temple of Karnak, Luxor

On your way towards the entrance, you will find a ram-headed avenue of Sphinxes, which was built to protect the Temple. There are 20 rams on each side, extending from the small harbor to the 1st Pylon, which was built during the time of King Nektanebo I 30th Dynasty. They still look down upon those who traverse the space they guard. As you cross this pylon, it takes you into an open court, of about m by 80m, built during the 22nd Dynasty, and containing rows of bud papyrus columns.

In the middle of the 1st open court is a huge column, 21m high, with a bud papyrus capital. This part is known as the kiosk of Taharqa, who ruled during the 25th Dynasty. This is the only column left from a colonnade that once had 10 columns. On the right side is the Temple of Ramses III, consisting of a small pylon, an open court, and Hypostyle hall, leading to the sanctuary.

Horemheb built the 2nd Pylon during the 18th Dynasty, though it is now badly damaged. Ramses I, the founder of the 19th Dynasty, later completed it. Passing the 2nd Pylon, we enter the Great Hypostyle Hall, which measures m in length and 52m in width. It contains papyrus columns; each column is about 22m in height and 3. The ceiling in the center is higher than the laterals, and it allows light into this spot, which was why it was used as the processional avenue of the triad during the festival of the Opet.

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The scenes of the Hypostyle Hall represent King Seti I, in front of different deities, making offerings, while the southern wall is decorated with scenes of Ramses II, making offerings to the different deities or worshipping the Triad of Thebes. Crossing the 3rd Pylon, you come to an open, rectangular court, which is known as the Court of Tuthmosis I. In this court, Tuthmosis I erected 2 obelisks, this is thought to be the area that was used as the main entrance of the Temple during his reign.

Unfortunately, only one obelisk has survived: it is currently 19m high and around tons in weight. Most of your time in Karnak will be spent inside this awe-inspiring building, but don't make the mistake of thinking this is all the Karnak complex has to offer. The Kiosk of Sesostris I, just to the north of the Great Temple of Amun , is one of the oldest structures in the whole temple complex. Built of fine limestone, it was erected to commemorate the King's Jubilee.

It stands on a substructure and is approached by ramps on the east and west sides. The roof is borne on 24 pillars, which, like the outer walls, are covered with reliefs of excellent quality. In the interior is a base for the sacred barque of Amun.

The 10 Best Karnak Temple Tours & Tickets - Luxor | Viator

The temple is approached from the west through five successive gateways. Beyond this is a passage formed by four columns with rich foliage capitals, linked by screens. At the end of the passage is a small Pylon with the names of Tuthmosis III restored in the Ptolemaic period on the doorway. The entrance passage leads into a Court, on the rear side of which is a portico with two sided columns. In the walls are six niches, and a staircase leads to an upper story. In the center of the court, a door leads into the Sanctuary.

Here, on the doorway, you can see restored reliefs dating from the reign of Tuthmosis III, while the Sanctuary preserves original reliefs of that period. In the Sanctuary is the cult image of Ptah now headless , which is lit, with magical effect, by an aperture in the roof. To the right is a room containing a statue of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, and to the left, another room with reliefs of Tuthmosis III.

From the small Temple of Ptah, a gateway in the north enclosure wall gives access to the Northern Temple Precinct surrounded by a brick wall.


The north gateway of the temple precinct was built by Ptolemy King Euergetes. In the enclosure wall to the south of the temple is a gateway with the name of Nectanebo II and the remains of a list of the people he subdued. It was built by Amenophis III 18th Dynasty , but was several times altered and enlarged down to the period of the Ptolemies.

Tour of Karnak Temple

The temple is so badly ruined that it is difficult to even make out the ground plan, but the older fragments of sculpture and architectural elements display a high standard of artistic skill. Outside the north entrance stood two obelisks of red granite, of which the bases and some fragments still remain.

Just after the eastern exit of the Great Temple of Amun , beyond an unexcavated mound of rubble, is the badly ruined Temple of Ramses II, built on the same axis as the principal temple, which cuts across an older brick enclosure wall. The entrance doorway, on the east side, leads into a hall with two Osiris pillars, behind which is a narrow Hypostyle Hall.

In front of the doorway there was originally a hall dating from the reign of Taharqa, with 20 columns linked by screens.

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South of these remains, to the east of the Sacred Lake , are the remains of a brick building dating from before the Middle Kingdom. The front chamber was added by Amenirdis, sister of Shabaka 25th Dynasty and mother-in-law of Psammetichus I. In the vicinity are a number of small chapels of the 26th Dynasty. Beyond the Temple of Ramses II, to the east, is the well-preserved East Gate now closed in the brick enclosure wall, which surrounded the whole temple precinct. Built by Nectanebo I, it stands 19 meters high.

The walls encircling the lake are well preserved on the west, south, and north sides, from which steps lead down to the water.

A Brief History Of Karnak Temple City

On the north side is a structure built by Tuthmosis III. Near the northwest corner are the ruins of a building erected by Taharqa, and on the edge of the lake is a large granite scarab dedicated by Amenophis III to the sun god Atum-Khepri, who was represented in the form of a scarab. A short avenue of sphinxes, set up by Ramses XI, the last of the Ramessids, leads to the Temple of Khonsu, dedicated to the Theban moon god son of Amun and Mut , a characteristic example of the architecture of the New Kingdom. The temple was built by Ramses III, but the reliefs, apart from those in the innermost chambers, which were completed during his reign, were executed during the reigns of his successors Ramses IV and XII and the priest king Herihor, who also built the forecourt.

The central doorway, with reliefs of Alexander II, leads into the Forecourt , flanked on the right and left by a double row of papyrus columns with closed capitals. The temple is entered by a large Pylon, 32 meters long, 10 meters deep, and 18 meters high. Like the facades of other temples, it has four vertical grooves, with corresponding apertures in the masonry, for the fixing of flagstaffs.