Travel to Karnak Temple – Egypt’s Most Important Temple
Karnak is the largest, most spectacular temple complex in Egypt. From its forest of pillars in the Hypostyle Hall, to the magnificent reliefs carved with battle scenes, its scale amazes. Here you can see the legacy of dozens of pharaohs who were building here for over 1,300 years.
When Thebes became capital of Egypt around 2000BCE construction at Karnak began with the building of the White Chapel of Senusret. Successive pharaohs added to, rebuilt and enlarged what they inherited, each trying to outdo the other and put their own stamp on what has over the centuries grew into a 50-acre complex. What often amazes visitors – even those that have been to the Pyramids – is the sheer scale of what they see along with the practical considerations of its construction at a time when tools were rudimentary at best.
At one time a sacred avenue of sphinxes linked Luxor and Karnak Temples; today we enter Karnak Temple past those that remain. Passing beneath the First Pylon next come kiosks and small temples built by Seti II for the Theban triad of Gods Mut, Khon and Amun. Beyond the Second Pylon lies the Hypostyle Hall. Whilst a cliché its description as a ‘forest of pillars’ is accurate and this hall impresses every visitor who enters. Its 6,000sq metre area has 122 papyrus-shaped columns carved with reliefs around their enormous girth and they soar to more than 70 feet in height; originally roofed and brilliantly painted the hall would have been a formidable, dark enclosure.
Throughout the site are numerous obelisks, such as those of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only female pharaoh, and statues, like those of the god Amun and his consort Amunet. See the giant scarab by the Sacred Lake and further in the temple complex the Wall of Records where Tuthmosis III detailed his victories over the peoples he fought.
A visit to this remarkable site allows an appreciation like no other of a civilisation that was able to achieve so much some 1,500 years before the birth of Christ.
A visit will take around a half-day, longer for those with a deeper interest. As with many places in Egypt the services of a local guide are particularly useful in explaining what you are seeing.
There are plenty of quiets spots to take your cold drink, but the café by the Sacred Pool is a good place to sit and enjoy a break.
Karnak can be reached by taxi or calesh from Luxor in just a few minutes. It is essential to agree the fare and any waiting time before setting off.
- Wander the Hypostyle Hall – a forest of pillars
- See Hatshepsut’s obelisk, the tallest in Egypt
- Track down the Wall of Records, giant scarab and Sacred Lake