The Temple of Karnak is the most imposing of all those preserved in Egypt from the years of the Ancient Empire.

History

More than 30 pharaohs intervened in different parts and moments of its construction, between 2200 and 360 B.C., although the most prominent were Hatshepsut, Seti I, Ramses II and Ramses III.

The entire complex covers some 100 hectares, an area larger than many of the most important ancient cities. In its interior, the great temple of Amun stands out, which was the main reason for which the construction began, but as the pharaohs passed, other smaller temples continued to be built.

Of all the architectural jewels that can be seen in the Temple of Karnak, surely the most outstanding and impressive is the hypostyle hall, so called because it is a space supported by columns. It has more than 5,000 square meters and a total of 134 columns, of which twelve are the central and widest, designed to support what was the roof (now destroyed) and reaching a height of 23 meters.

As a result of all these hundreds of years of construction, changes, additions and touch-ups inside the Temple of Karnak, archaeologists and researchers have been able to catalogue more than 200 different structures, making it one of the most complex and richest areas still under investigation. and, of course, millions of annual tourist visits.

Its enormous 12-meter high wall was built in the form of waves in a style different from the rest of the temple and its horizontal courses of adobe. In this way, the architect sought to symbolize the waters of the Nun, the chaotic primordial ocean according to the beliefs of the Egyptian pharaohs. By placing it in the wall, he left the chaos outside the sacred area, where all should be peace and harmony for the rest of the god Amun.

In addition, there are two other deities that are represented in different statues, minor temples and columns and that together with Amun, form the main triad of divinities of Thebes: Mut and Jonsu.

The Temple of Karnak houses in its interior the following enclosures:

  • Temple of Amun-Ra.
  • Temple of Montu.
  • Temple of Mut.
  • Temple of Jonsu.
  • Temple of Opet.
  • Temple of Ptah.
  • Sacred lake.
  • Temples, chapels, storerooms and smaller rooms, built inside the walls and surrounding the main enclosure.

The temple of Amun-Ra stands out for being located on a perpendicular axis to the river, on its main part, which demonstrates the fundamental importance that the Nile had for the ancient Egyptians. In fact, there was a wharf that was reached by two ramps that connected the river channel with the first pylon through the Avenue of the Sphinxes. In that first pylon, there are still four holes on each side that were used to fit cedar wood masts covered with copper that held the banners during the holidays.

The first news in Europe of the existence of the Temple of Karnak comes from an anonymous Venetian traveler, who in 1589 recounts a trip to an unnamed enclosure but that by the characteristics mentioned, there is no doubt that it is this place. The original of this text is preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze and is the first known European mention since Herodotus and the ancient Greek and Roman writers spoke of the city of Thebes, but without specific reference to this temple.

From that specific year of the Middle Ages to the present day, the Temple of Karnak continues to captivate millions of people who come to see firsthand one of the great architectural wonders of the Pharaohs’ years. And even today, excavations continue to be carried out and remains of this unique complex continue to be discovered, which continues to surprise us.

How to get to the Temple of Karnak

It is located 3 km north of the Temple of Luxor, connected to it through the Avenue of the Sphinxes. Therefore, to go to the Temple of Karnak you have to get to the city of Luxor, by direct flight or train from different cities in Egypt: Alexandria, Cairo, Hurghada. In case you cruise the Nile from south to north, you will reach Luxor by boat from Aswan.

Schedules

The schedule to enter the Temple of Karnak is from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm for normal visits, both free and guided. Afterwards, the light and sound shows begin, which consist of entering the temple at night and, as a voice narrates the history of the site, different parts are illuminated. There are sessions in Spanish on Mondays and Fridays at 10:30 pm and in English every day.

Prices of the visit to the Temple of Karnak

The normal entrance fee to the Temple of Karnak is 120 EGP for adults and 60 EGP for students. The sound and light show costs 100 EGP. All these prices are contemplated without the guide service, whose cost will depend on the agency or operator you hire. You also have to buy a ticket to take photos inside the temple, which costs 20 EGP.

Photos of the Temple of Karnak

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