Egypt’s tourism has suffered in recent years. I saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of the low prices and finally book a trip to Egypt and fulfil my childhood dream (and drag my Husband with me). Everyone knows that Egypt is best known for its archaeology, which for me is a huge tick, and in just one week we managed to see so many different sites. After the first day it was pretty clear that the Ancient Egyptians loved their temples but what amazed me was that no two were the same. Each new temple that we visited had something new to offer. So here are my 6 unmissable Temples in Egpyt.
1 – Karnak – Temple of Amun
The first temple we visited and by far the biggest was Karnak. Every inch of this temple is impressive and if I am honest, totally overwhelming being the first that we saw. The first thing you see as you approach the entrance are the Ram headed sphinxes, behind which stood the large walls of the Temple. This was our first taste of hieroglyphics, I knew what they were and what they looked like but I was not prepared for how vast they would be. Every inch of the structure covered in carved hieroglyphics.
The most impressive part of this temple was the Great Hypostyle Hall (in my opinion) which is supported by 134 columns, all of which were carved. Its easy to imagine how amazing this place would have looked thousands of years ago. There is much more to this temple as well with smaller temples within it, the sacred lake, the obelisks and the Colossus of Rameses II. You could easily spend hours here, but it gets very busy very quickly and there is still so much to see.
2 – Luxor Temple
I really liked Luxor Temple, it seemed rather small after coming straight from Karnak however it was still impressive. Four statues can be seen at the front of the temple which face an avenue of sphinxes, similar to those seen at Karnak. An obelisk was also placed at the front of the temple, one of a pair (the other is now in Paris). These temples were often added to throughout the years and Luxor was no exception, built by Amenhotep, added to by Rameses II and then later additions were added during the Roman period most strikingly a church at the back of the temple.
At Luxor temple you are able to understand the efforts gone to when excavating these archaeological sites. As you look up you will spot a little building, this is a mosque which dates to the 13th century and sits on the sands and silts which have accumulated over the years, the original floor level during the 13th century lies about 20m above your head.
3 – Temple of Hatshepsut
The temple of Hatshepsut is located on the west bank, in Thebes, among the Valley of the Kings and Queens. This temple is very clearly different to all the other temples you will see and has been impressively cut into the mountain. Back in its prime this temple would have had an avenue of sphinxes which pointed in the direction of Karnak, gardens with planted trees would have also sat in front of the temple.
The temple itself is on three different levels and the most memorable aspect of this tomb is how vibrant all the colours are used in the wall murals. Many of the hieroglyphics and statues which depict Hatshepsut were later destroyed by Rameses II (he was not keen on her).
4 – Temple of Khnum – Esna
This was the smallest temple that we visited however I still really enjoyed my visit here. Esna is a quiet town, and we snuck off to the temple really really early (we were the first ones there). This temple is Graeco-Roman in date and was designed to resemble an earlier temple at the site. The site is close to the Nile and over the years flooded and filled with silts but now work is taking place to clean the brightly coloured hypostyle hall. Many of the hieroglyphics on the ceiling of this temple represent the signs of the zodiac and even though the temple was small I wanted to explore every inch.
5 – Temple of Kom Ombo
This is the only temple we visited in the evening which added a new perspective to these magnificent buildings. This temple is incredibly symmetrical due to it being dedicated to two different gods, Horus and Sobek (crocodile god). The carvings at this temple although lacking in colour, were incredibly detailed and looked nearly brand new. The added bonus to this temple is the very small museum attached to it which houses a number of mummified crocodiles!
6 – Temple of Philae – Aswan
My favourite temple, this place was just magical, I think helped by how sunny it was. The island itself is only reached by a small boat, although this is not the original island as Philae temple is one of a few temples in Egypt which were moved by UNESCO led projects to help save the remains from flooding . This temple is the centre of the cult of Isis and is formed by many different structures which are a mix of Egyptian and Roman architecture. A courtyard leads to the main temple which is very similar to those already seen. Other aspects of this island include the gate of Hadrian, where you can get an amazing view out from the island and was quiet compared to the rest of the island. The kiosk of Trajan stood out to me, it was quite obviously a Roman inspired building.
Don’t be scared of visiting Egypt, it felt no more dangerous than any busy city at the moment. Tourism here is finally increasing again but the Egyptians kept mentioning how few British tourists they had seen in the last few years. Visit Egypt whilst you can!