Of Luxor’s many monuments, the Temple Complex of Karnak has to be its most astonishing and beautiful feat. It is the second-largest temple complex in the world as well as the second most visited site in Egypt, coming in right behind the Pyramids of Giza. Karnak Temple dates back to 2055 BC to around 100 AD. It is located in the village of El-Karnak, which is 2.5 kilometers north of Luxor. Karnak temple known as the temple of Amun. It also called Ipet-isu or “The most select of places” in the middle kingdom.
Your first view of Karnak Temple is from an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes at the southern entrance to the temple. These sphinxes are a symbol of the god Amun and lead one and a half miles (3 km) down to Luxor Temple as well as the River Nile.
The Karnak temple was built for various reasons related to religion and ancient history, the main reason why they built the temple was to worship the famous god “Amon” and his wife “Mut” and their son named “khonsu” because inside the temple there are temples dedicated to every king.
Beyond the religious function, the site also served as the administrative center and seat for the pharaohs during the New Kingdom era. Karnak is probably the largest monumental complex ever built in the world, developed from generation to generation over 1500 years, and resulting in a composition of temples, shrines, and architectural elements unique in Egypt.
Approximately 30 pharaohs added something to the Karnak Temple Complex. The structure enjoyed the greatest importance during the era of the New Kingdom, under pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Tuthmose III, Seti I, and Rameses II who contributed, one after the other, to the development of the complex. The subsequent structural expansion continued during the Greek-Roman period with the Ptolemies, then with the Romans, and finally with the first Christians. In fact, each of these civilizations left an important mark.
Karnak consists of three sections: the precinct of Amun, that of Mut, that of Montu; however, for most visitors the largest of these, the precinct of Amun, is enough. It is a complicated layout alone dwarfs every other site that you will visit in Egypt.
The precinct of Amun contains all of the most famous sections of the Karnak complex; including the dizzying Great Hypostyle Hall. It is the most amazing building at Karnak. It is 103m in length and 52m in width. The Hall consists of 134 gigantic stone columns; there are the largest 12 columns which are 22.40 m in height and 3.5m in diameter, while the other 122 columns are 14.75 m in height. The Hypostyle Hall was built by King Seti who ruled from 1290 to 1279 B.C. The outer walls of the northern wing describe Seti’s battle. The south wall inscribed with Ramesses II’s peace treaty with the Hittites.
The Sacred Lake
To the south of Ramses II’s enclosure wall around the Temple of Amun lays the Sacred Lake. In Arabic, it known as Birket el-Mallaha, as the water of the lake is slightly saline. The Sacred Lake is the largest of its kind. King Tuthmosis III dug it; priests used it for purification and other rituals like navigation, it was also the home of sacred geese of Amun. It lined with stone and provided stairways descending into the water.
Karnak Temple Sound and Light Show
If you’d like to see a different side of Karnak Temple, why not return in the evening to experience one of Egypt’s most famous light and sound shows that offered in several different languages. The show lasts for around 90 minutes, then a wonderful opportunity waiting for visitors to wander around some parts of the temple while it beautifully illuminated and their dramatic history revealed to you. The reflection one sees on the water of the nearby Sacred Lake is also quite out of this world.
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