Luxor Temple of Ancient Egypt
The last attraction during the excursion to Luxor is the Luxor Temple, many tourists are very tired by the time of his visit, especially if all the interesting places of Luxor are shown to you in one day. If you arrive here tired, then we will please you, this temple complex is much smaller in size than the Karnak temple , you can bypass it in less than an hour, and at the same time have time to see all the interesting things.
These temples were considered secondary in the ancient Thebes, in comparison with the Karnak temple, although this temple was located right in the city, whereas the Karnak temples had to go two kilometers.
Between the two complexes was organized a road with the alley of the sphinxes, which is almost not preserved, it is now being actively restored. The ancient Egyptians arranged a procession with statues of the gods between the temples along this alley in honor of the holiday held during the Nile flood.
The temple was founded by Pharaoh Amenhotep III, one of the greatest pharaohs, it is his huge statues known as the Colossi of Memnon , standing near the Nile, the statue of the sphinxes with its head is even in Russia, on the University embankment in St. Petersburg.
After him, the temple was completed by other pharaohs, the greatest contribution was made by Pharaoh Ramses II, and the last annexe was built already under Alexander the Great. During the Hellenistic period, no serious construction in the temple was conducted, and the Romans generally encircled it with a wall and arranged here the headquarters of the Roman administration in Egypt.
The Egyptians themselves called this place Ipete Resit, which translates as "the southern sacred place," however, this did not stop the later Egyptians from forgetting about this place, and eventually it became part of the city.
At the beginning of the excavation by archaeologists there were residential houses, and there was a real mosque. Houses were removed from the site of archaeological excavations, and the mosque remained and still operates.
Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque, the mosque is not part of the excursion, one can only look at it from the outside.
The tour begins with 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 stands on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. This obelisk was donated to the French by the Khedive (viceroy) Muhammad Ali, we wrote about it in detail about the sights of Cairo .
It's a pity, but in connection with the "parting" of the two obelisks, we will not see the most interesting of their properties, the fact is that they were specially created in 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, because now this effect is no longer to be seen.
Also at the entrance to the temple are two large statues depicting Pharaoh Ramses II, this entry is generally dedicated to him and was also built by him. The square behind the gate is also called "the great court of Ramses II", this is the largest area inside the temple, measuring 57 by 51 meters.
On the perimeter are columns and large statues of the pharaoh, which are called the "colossi of Ramses II".
Now let's talk about the fact that Ramses is not dedicated to this square, there are only two such elements. Firstly, it is the mosque of Sufi Sheikh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjazh, we already mentioned it above. After the temple was abandoned, there was a Roman administration, and later, already during the Byzantine Empire, there was a Christian church that has not survived to this day. The church was destroyed after the arrival of Arabs in Egypt, they also built a mosque on this place.
The second element on 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, when the square was built, it organically merged into it.
After viewing this square, you will fall into the area that was built earlier by Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It leads the great gate of Amenhotep III, through them you will enter a long corridor with a colonnade named after him.
There are seven pairs of columns, each about 16 meters high. Once, before the construction of the first square of Ramses II, it was the front entrance to the temple.
Temples of ancient Egypt were very different from modern ones. Temples of major religions today have large rooms for worshipers and rituals, while in ancient Egyptian temples there are no such large areas.
Among the experts there is an opinion, and we agree with it from the experience of visiting local sanctuaries, that the temples were not used as a place for daily prayers, rather they were places intended for large processions.
At the head of the most important processions, of course, was the pharaoh, he offered gifts to the gods personally. During the new kingdom, the Pharaohs were considered the children of Amon-Ra himself.
After the colonnade you will get to a large rectangular area, this is the court of Amenhotep III. The size is slightly less than the first yard, 56 by 45 meters. From the point of view of the design, it almost does not differ from Ramses's court, 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 to the north, you will see the columns, 4 rows of 8 pieces, and after them the sanctuaries begin.
The most interesting sanctuary is dedicated to the pharaoh of Egypt, which everyone knows about, but not many know that he was a full-fledged pharaoh. His Egyptian name sounds like Setenpen-meruamun Alexander III, although we know him as Alexander (Macedon) Great. Like all the pharaohs, he was deified, and his sanctuary as God is here.
With these bas-reliefs is associated one of the biggest scandals associated with the Luxor Temple. In 2013, an inscription written in Chinese was discovered on the wall. Some of the Chinese tourists wrote on the wall "Ding Jinhao was here," the photo went around the world, was published on thousands of pages in social networks. Two days later the inscription was erased.
The Chinese generally like to write on historical monuments, we showed an 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 history of the divine origin of the pharaoh.
Also inside are the temples of the three gods: Amon-Ra, his wife, the goddess Mut and their son Khonsu, the god of the moon. These three gods were most respected in ancient Thebes, almost all the temples were 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 a highlight, the temple columns appear to you in an unusual form, which is even more interesting.
The next interesting temple in our series of reviews is no longer in Luxor, but in Edfu, a city 100 kilometers upstream of the Nile, we will tell about it in the next review.
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