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The Karnak Temple is the largest religious temple of the ancient civilization that still exists. For this reason, it attracts millions of visitors every year and it is, besides the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Abu Simbel temples, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Egypt.
The Karnak Temple is a large-city temple, originally part of Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt. It is the home of the god Amun. However, Karnak was not exclusively dedicated to Amun, but also held worship services to the gods Mut and Koshu. The complex is the house of smaller temples dedicated to Isis, Ptah and even to some pharaohs, Ramses II among them.
Because Karnak was constantly being enlarged by subsequent rulers, the construction was done over two thousand years and it is believed that it was never finished. The temple covers an area of 200 acres, 61 of them dedicated to Amun. Restorations began in the 18th century and continue to this day.
When was the Karnak Temple built?
The construction of the Karnak Temple covers a long period, from 2200 BC to mid-360 BC, which is why the works passed through the hands of several pharaohs, each leaving a mark of himself and his reign by, for example, ordering statues of gods with their face features.
Where is the Karnak Temple located?
It is located in south Egypt, in Luxor, about 660km from Cairo. To reach Luxor you must take a plane or train, the first being faster, but more expensive, and the second longer (11 to 12 hours journey), but cheaper. Many travelers choose to take the night train, so they arrive in Luxor in the morning and can enjoy a full day of adventures.
What are the highlights of the Karnak Temple?
The Karnak Temple is huge. You can easily spend an entire day walking around the complex discovering details and noticing differences in the style of the monuments. But definitely one of its highlight is the great hypostyle salon. This hall covers impressive 54 square meters and has 134 columns, each 23 meters high. It is a place that gives us an idea of how rich and powerful the New Kingdom was.
Followed by the first highlight, comes the Granite Chapel, also known as the Red Chapel because of its pink granite. The chapel has three chambers, each dedicated to the gods of the house and was built under the orders of Queen Hatshepsut. Next, and still talking about Hatshepsut, it is worth mentioning the Obelisk of Hatshepsut, which is 27 meters high and weighs 340 tons, the largest in Egypt and the second largest in the world.
Finally, there is the sacred lake of the Karnak Temple. Most temples in Ancient Egypt had a lake for purification purposes and sacred rituals. In addition, the lake was a representation of the birth of Amun in the morning, the Sun God.
Visitors can join in the temple at night for the fine Sound & Lights Show.
Tourists visit the Karnak Temple all year round. However you may consider which season works the best for you. During the summer (the months of June, July and August) temperatures can reach 45 degrees Celsius, and this may not be the best option. Generally, the best time to visit Karnak is the period between September and April, when temperatures are cooler.
What should I wear to visit the Karnak Temple?
The Karnak Temple is huge and is located in a sand-covered area, so remember to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a bottle of water are also welcome.
Do I need a guide to visit the Karnak Temple?
We recommend you to go with a guide. The idea of having a tour guide is to do your visit with a person who has a deep knowledge of the place and who gives you information that will enrich your experience. The Temple of Karnak is immense and having an Egyptologist to explain what is that, when each monument or temple was built, inscriptions on the wall and more will surely make your visit much better than just admiring the vastness of the place.