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Located near the Valley of the Kings, temple is dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, one of the few women pharaohs of Egypt. Despite attempts to erase her from history, she remains an emblematic figure who brought great progress to Egypt during her 22 years of reign. Her uniquely designed temple is one of the top attractions in Egypt.
Hatshepsut was a legitimate princess, daughter of King Thutmose I and his first wife, Queen Ahmose. After the death of his father, the throne passed to Thutmose II, her half brother and husband, but he died after just a few years of reign, and the throne was entitled to his son with a minor wife, Thutmose III. As Thutmose III was still a child, Hatshepsut would rule as pharaoh-regent until the boy grow up. This was not uncommon. Women have ruled before to secure the throne to a legitimate heir but there was something different about Hatshepsut. She was determined to eternize her name.
She legitimized her power by claiming that she was merely a tool, that such a decision was the will of her father, the god Amun, who would have sent her to rule Egypt. According to Hatshepsut, Amun descended the heavens and assumed the form of Thutmose I to get her mother pregnant. He would have told her that from that union she would give birth to a woman who would rule Egypt.
And so Hatshepsut did. She ruled Egypt longer than any other female pharaoh (for over 20 years). Her reign was marked by peace and successful expeditions. She paid particular attention to architecture and increased Egypt's wealth. Hatshepsut preferred to be represented aesthetically as a pharaoh with masculine features, like a beard, except for a slimmer waist, indicating that she was a woman.
The construction of her temple was intended to be of original and unique architecture. Queen Hatshepsut's Funerary Temple, or Temple of Deir el-Bahri, is considered one of the wonders of Ancient Egypt.
Why we didn't hear about Queen Hatshepsut before?
Hatshepsut's mummy was identified in 2007. It is believed the queen died around 40 years old, obese and victim of diabetes. Her statues and hieroglyphs were damaged. For a long time it was believed that the destruction was at the behest of her nephew-stepson, Thutmose III, but there is no assurance about this.
Another theory considers that it was Amenhotep II, son of Thutmose II, who would have vandalized works referring to Hatshepsut when he ruled as regent alongside his father. The reason would be his weak position as a successor.
Whoever is responsible, the fact is that such damage contributed to Hatshepsut be kept unknown to scholars until the 19th century, thus justifying why we did not hear about her earlier.
Because the temple is one of the great wonders of Ancient Egypt and is one of the most important in the country. It is a temple of unique architecture with three terraces almost 30 meters high together. Most of the statues were removed and placed in museums, but the temple itself is still impressive.
An extra surprise awaits those who visit the temple on December 21st and 22nd in time for sunrise, the dates of winter solstice. Senemute, the architect of the temple, calculated its position in a way that the place would benefit from the entry of light on those days. The sunrays are responsible for a real show: first illuminating the walls, then moving towards the center and finally touching the statues of Amun-Ra, King Thutmose III and Hapi, the King of the Nile, respectively.
Where is the Hatshepsut Temple located?
It is located in the Valley of Deir el-Bahari, close to the Valley of the Kings, in Luxor. To get there, go by car, taxi or travel agencies vans.