In light of recent events, it’s fair to say that Egypt it is not likely to be a popular winter sun getaway for this October half term. But rather than dwell on the terrible plight of Egypt’s people, in this week’s ‘Friday Five’ we’d like to focus on the positives – the temples, tombs and pyramids that have inspired so many inquisitive minds over the millennia – and will, we hope, continue to do so long into the future.
So here are five of the most impressive Ancient Egyptian temples (or as we like to think of it, Grand Designs: 1500 BC!)…
1. Temple of Hatshepsut
The Temple of Hatshepsut is definitely the work of someone who was trying to make a statement. Cut into a cliff face and consisting of three layered terraces reaching an impressive 30 metres in height, it comes as no surprise that Hatshepsut (one of only a few women who ruled Egypt) used impressive building projects like this to prove her ability and legitimacy to the throne. Designed by royal architect Senemut (1450 BC) this temple was both for the posthumous worship of Hatshepsut and to honour god Amun.
2. Temple of Edfu
Located on the west bank of the Nile River between Esna and Aswan, the Temple of Edfu is dedicated to the falcon god Horus. It’s the second largest temple after Karnak and dating as late as 57 BC, it’s also one of the best preserved, featuring an interesting blend of New Kingdom Egyptian and Greek styles.
3. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple was dedicated to the three Egyptian gods Amun, Mut, and Chons (1400 BC). Situated in a prominent position on the east bank of the River Nile, it continued to be used as a place of worship into Classical Antiquity and beyond, with its hypostyle hall later converted into a Christian church. The temple would have been the centre point of the important Opet festival, and it was linked it to Karnak temple by a processional avenue of sphinxes along which statues of the Gods were carried during the festival.
4. Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple holds the title of largest ancient religious site in the world. It actually consists of three main separate temples (Temples of Montu, Amun-Ra and Mut), alongside some smaller temples. New building work at Karnak was fuelled by military success, which provided access to new resources and an intake of money and goods.
5. Abu Simbel
One of Egypt’s top tourist destinations, the twin temples of Abu Simbel lie on the Western bank of Lake Nasser, southwest of Aswan. Carved from the mountainside during the reign of Ramesses the Great, they were designed to be a lasting monument to himself, and his queen Nefertari. Almost as fascinating as the structure themselves is the process in which they had to be relocated 200 metres back from the river and 65 metres higher to stop them being flooded with the creation of the Nasser Lake after the building of the Aswan High Dam.
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