Luxor’s two main temples are some of the most impressive in Egypt, demonstrating the wealth and ingenuity of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. Both these temples were largely built around three and a half thousand years ago, though continued to be added to over the centuries.
Karnak is one of the largest religious sites in the world, occupying an area the size of ten cathedrals, with thirty pharaohs contributing to the site over thousands of years. The main entrance used to be connected to the River Nile by a canal. A 3km long Avenue of the Sphinxes connects the site with Luxor Temple, though I can’t imagine many people would want to walk this distance in the heat.
The First Pylon is unfinished, but the ramp behind it helped archeologists understand how these epic structures were built.
The most impressive part of the temple is the Hypostyle Hall with 134 huge columns between 10m and 21m tall covered in scenes, some with colour still visible. Photos don’t really capture the sense of scale. Each column has the circumstance of 6-8 people holding hands.
Intact is the Obelisk of Hatshepsut, a famous Egyptian female ruler whose successor tried to remove her monuments but couldn’t destroy an obelisk honouring the gods so had high walls built around it instead so people couldn’t see it.
There are so many areas of Karnak to explore.
This temple structure at the back had an extensive amount of blue paint surviving the aons.
Luxor Temple is relatively smaller, but still huge by any standard. Amazingly it effectively disappeared in the Middle Ages under 15m of rubble to form an artificial hill before being rediscovered in the late 19th century.
It has an impressive First Pylon though the end of the day isn’t the best light for photographing it.
Inside are the usual avenues of giant columns and a few statues.
More columns follow before reaching the sanctuary, which was converted by the Romans into a church.
Some of the best views of the temple can be found from the water, crossing the Nile by boat, from the top of my hotel, from the far corner, and from the first floor of the Snack Time restaurant next to MacDonalds!
Both temples are understandably popular, even in the so called shoulder season of early May. This is one reason why most of my photos above are aiming toward the sky, to crop out the crowds!
The Luxor Temple end appeared to have the most to see as part of the Avenue of the Sphinxes.
Also well worth a visit is Luxor Museum, which has a relatively small but well presented collection, in contrast to the sprawling Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Having visited the sites themselves the objects in museums make a lot more sense with the context.
To finish with by far the newest place covered here, the oldest church in Luxor, the 150 year old Saint Mary Coptic Orthodox Church.