Travel to Edfu – Egypt’s Best-Preserved Temple
Two massive pylons flanked by granite falcons greet visitors entering this Ptolemaic-era temple, the best preserved in Egypt. The temple demonstrates how, with some success, the Greek Ptolemies adopted the Pharaonic religion and customs and continued the tradition of construction on a massive scale.
The Ptolemies were a dynasty of Macedonian Greeks who ruled Egypt for some 350 years after Alexander the Great conquered the country in 323BCE. Slowly adopting Egyptian dress and customs they reigned successfully, integrating fully into Egyptian society and building numerous temples such as the enormous, well-preserved Temple of Horus here at Edfu.
The temple at Edfu is dedicated to Horus, falcon-headed god of the skies and the son of Isis and Osiris. He represents the ruling Pharaoh and temples often feature his image. The common rectangular temple layout is continued here at Edfu, but it is again the scale of construction that amazes visitors: the Great Pylons are a full 36m high. Massive carvings showing the Pharaoh Ptolemy XII smiting his enemies. Inside the pylon lies a huge courtyard beyond which are many halls and chambers, including one given over to use as a laboratory to prepare the perfumes and potions used in the religious ceremonies.
Edfu can be visited on a day trip from Luxor or as part of a 3-day felucca sail trip from Aswan which – wind allowing – ends at Edfu. Nile cruises also call at Edfu. Allow around 2 hours to see the temple.
After exploring the temple join the locals for a glass of shay or a cold drink in one of the tea-houses.
Edfu lies some 132km south of Luxor and can be visited by taxi or train from Luxor. Many cruise companies include Edfu as part of their itinerary
- Take in the scale of the Great Pylons, a full 36m high
- See the reliefs of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII crushing his enemies
- Try to find the laboratory where incense and perfumes were mixed for use in religious ceremonies