Sightseeing

Luxor temple

Luxor temple , the southernmost of the monuments of the theban east bank ,is one of the best preserved of all of the ancient monuments with large amounts of the structure ,atatuary and relief carvings still intact , located in the heart of ancient thebes  and like karnak was dedicated to the god amon-re  , consider to be on the most beautiful temples in egypt , was known in the New Kingdom period as Ipt-Rsyt, which means the southern shrine , just to differentiate between this temple and karnak temple which was known as the northern house of the god amon  , the name luxor presents both the present-day metropolis that was ancient thebes , and the temple “ luxor “ derives from the arabic al-uksur meaning the palaces . while the ancient name was ‘Ipet-resyt’ or ‘the southern Opet’ which served as a focal point for the Opet festival. Once a year the divine image of Amun with his consort Mut and their son Khonsu would journey in their sacred barques from Karnak Temples to the temple at Luxor to celebrate the festival which was held during the inundation. Opet’s primary function was religious but the festival was also significant in maintaining the king’s divine role.

The city which developed into the great capital of the egyptian empire , had no particular importance during the first thousand years of egypts ancient history , it was only after the hyksos occupation that luxor and its local god achieved prestige and then on a scale never imagined  ,  the new kingdom ( 1567 – 1080 )  the pharaohs ordered the construction of marvellous monuments in honour of their god , they declared that amon-re was not only god of thebes  , but was in fact the king of gods , since that time luxor gained its importance as the city of amon & the capital of the new kingdom  and the beginning of age of glory . 

Luxor temple was begun the pharaoh Amenhotep III,  the magnificent , he ruled egypt during the peaceful & stable 18th dynasty , he was mostly interested in art , easy & luxurious life which is obvious from his achievements  , the temple was on of the houses of the triad of thebes amon-re , his consort mut and their son khonsu  , the temple suffered some  damage in the reign of akhenaten his son , when the name & figure of amon were erased , but it was restored during the reigns of tutankhamon and horemhab  ,

the temple complex was continually developed by other pharaohs like Ramesses II  , he carried out major work , particulary when he constructed the entrance and front  court  , this why the construction of this temple started from the end to the beginning , as the end of this temple was built by Amenhotep III,  and then after 80 years Ramesses II  , added the front  part of the temple .

Alexander the Great, who liberated Egypt from Persian occupation, rebuilt the Sanctuary of luxor temple to represent him self offering to the main god amon-re and the other various gods  .

During the Christian era, the inner section was converted to a church , and then later the Muslims built a Mosque in the 10th century, which is known as the Mosque of Abou El-Hagag .

King Nektanebo of the 30th dynasty built the Sphinx Avenue in front of the Temple that leads to the entrance  .

The Luxor Temple is constructed of sandstone blocks , The temple complex is surrounded by mud-brick walls, symbolic of the separation between the world and the sacred realm of the gods. Temple design during the New Kingdom exhibited a set of common design features in temple construction. The Temple of Luxor exhibits many of the features typical of temple construction during the New Kingdom .

The paylon

Was built by Ramesses II. , not just anyone could enter the temple complex only the pharaoh, priests, and other officials were allowed. The pylon at Luxor is guarded by 6 colossi statues of Ramesses II , 2 of the six statues representing king Ramesses II sitting on the throne and wearing the double crown of upper & lower egypt , while the other  4 statues representing the king standing  infront of the pylon ,2 of the seated statue now in louvre museum , he also erected 2 granite obelisks  inscribed with his names & titles , one was presented by muh.ali pasha to france in 1819 and standing now in the place de la concord in paris , and fortunately the other obelisk is still in place .

The outer walls of the pylon shows scenes of the famous battle of kadesh between Ramesses II and moteli the hitite king , moteli wanted by all means to destroy completely the egyptian army in order to guarantee the complete control over asia , so he united all the princes of these lands in a big coalition against egypt and marched to kadesh , Ramesses II then moved towards kadesh with his 4 divisions , the hitities were quite clever so they planted 2 asian spies for Ramesses II to be captured and mislead the egyptian army which apparently caught the bate , so Ramesses II marched only with 1 division of the army without waiting for the rest of his armies in order to surprise the hitite army which was retreating as they were told by these 2 spies , when the hitites started to attack the egyptians they were taken by surprise and there was a state of disorder within the egyptian troops , so Ramesses II started to participate himself in the battle in order to encourage his soliders and luckily enough he was capable of avoiding a true disaster in the first day of battle , in the second day the rest of the armies of Ramesses II had already arrived and he was capable of gaining a victory ( according to the records of Ramesses II ), however by comparing both the egyptian and the hetitie records we could conclude that non of the 2 armies gained a full victory .

The open court

Beyond the pylon is the large court , was built by Ramesses II , it is 57 meters long and 51 meters wide ,on the right side of the open court ,  there are triple shrines  or way station of Amun, Mut and Khonsu constructed in sandstone with features belonging to the earlier structure of Hatshepsut retained in the rebuilding  , around the court is a double row of 74 papyrus columns with bud capitals showing Ramesses II before different deities , between the columns are several standing statues of Ramesses II some are damaged .

On the left hand of the open court is the mosque of abu l-hagag , most of the mosque including the  minaret , is 19C .

The colonnade hall

Was built by Amenhotep III , he began the construction of the great colonnade hall at the end of his reign , but died before it was completed  , so king tutankhamun ( 1336 – 1327 ) BC  finished the structure and was responsible for the decoration of most of the inner walls but died before the decoration could be finished , then king AY ( 1327 – 1323 BC ) finished the decoration of the southern end of the hall ( in paint , the carving was later finished by Seti I ) and carved the façade , his succesor Horemheb ( 1323 – 1308 BC ) erased both kings names and replaced them with his own .

In the time of tutankhamun the colonnade hall side walls were as high as the columns , and the whole hall was roofed with great stone slabs , the roof collapsed in the 1st century BC , and the stone blocks of the walls were later quarried and reused as building material around luxor temple in the medival period , many wall fragments were recovered in the late 1950s during excavations wich exposed the alleway of sphinxes in fron of the temple  .

The scenes on the walls of the colonnade hall shows the Opet festival , consisting of the portable sacred boats , carried by priests , a troop of soliders with standards and musical instruments , one of the sacred boats towed by a rowing vessel , a group of nubians with music  and two royal charriots led by grooms , the reliefs are of the high quality and delicated outline of the best 18 dynasty work .

The court of Amenhotep III

Like the court of Ramesses II , is a peristyle court surrounded on three sides by double rows of columns with papyrus-bud capitals , this court is the glory of the temple of luxor and is an example of the best 18 dynasty work , the columns are well proportioned and in a good state of preservation except at the north end , originally the colonnade was covered but the roofing blocks have gone .

In 1988 a collection of statues was found under the floor of this court , now are in luxor museum .

The hypostyle hall

Sometimes called the vestibule , consists of 32 bud columns grouped in 4 rows of 8 , was built by king Amenhotep III , but later rameses IV and rameses VI have usurped the columns by inscribing their cartouches , the walls of the hypostyle hall shows Amenhotep III bringing offerings before amun and amunet , and killing a gazelle before the god .

To the south open 4 long rooms , 3 of which are chapels , those on each side of the central doorway to khonsu and 1 on the east side to mut .

The hypostle hall opens south into the first antechamber which originally had 8 columns , but these were removed when the chamber was turned into a Christian church in 4C .

The 2nd antechamber with 4 columns known as the offering hall , the walls shows the king driving sacred calves to be killed before the god , offering incense , chests , sistra and sceptres to the god amun-re .

The sanctuary of the sacred boat

Another antechamber with 4 columns built by king Amenhotep III , later it was converted to a sanctuary by alexander the great who built the chapel , shows alexander before amun-re , mut and khonsu the triad of thebes , and he is shown presenting a feather crown and vases to amun .

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