Category: Sightseeing

Citadel of Qaitbay

Citadel of Qaitbay

Citadel of Qaitbay

The Qaitbay Citadel in Alexandria is considered one of the most important defensive strongholds, not only in Egypt, but also along the Mediterranean Sea coast. It formulated an important part of the fortification system of Alexandria in the 15th century A.D.

The Citadel is situated at the entrance of the eastern harbour on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest, then several disasters occurred and the shape of the lighthouse was changed to some extent, but it still continued to function. Restoration began in the period of Ahmed Ibn Tulun (about 880 A.D). During the 11th century an earthquake occurred, causing damage to the octagonal part. The bottom survived, but it could only serve as a watchtower, and a small Mosque was built on the top. In the 14th century there was a very destructive earthquake and the whole building was completely destroyed.

About 1480 A.D, the Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay fortified the place as part of his coastal defensive edifices against the Turks, who were threatening Egypt at that time. He built the castle and placed a Mosque inside it. The Citadel continued to function during most of the Mameluke period, the Ottoman period and the Modern period, but after the British bombardment of the city of Alexandria in 1883, it was kept out of the spotlight. It became neglected until the 20th century, when it was restored several times by the Egyptian Supreme Counsel of Antiquities.

The founder of the Citadel of Qaitbay is Sultan Al-Ashraf Abou Anasr Saif El-Din Qaitbay El-Jerkasy Al-Zahiry (1468-1496 A.D) who was born about 1423 A.D (826 H). He was a Mamluke who had come to Egypt as a young man, less than 20 years old. Bought by Al-Ashraf Bersbay, he remained among his attendants until Al-Ashraf Bersbay died. Then the Sultan Djaqmaq bought Qaitbay, and later gave him his freedom. Qaitbay then went on to occupy various posts. He became the Chief of the Army (Atabec Al-Askar) during the rule of the Sultan Tamar bugha. When the Sultan was dethroned, Qaitbay was appointed as a Sultan who was titled Almalek Al-Ashraf on Monday 26th Ragab, 872 H. (1468 A.D). He was one of the most important and prominent Mameluke Sultans, ruling for about 29 years. He was a brave king, who tried to initiate a new era with the Ottomans by exchanging embassies and gifts. He was fond of travel and made many prominent journeys.

Qaitbay was so fond of art and architecture that he created an important post among the administrative system of the state; it was the Edifices Mason (Shady Al-Ama’er). He built many beneficial constructions in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. In Egypt there are about 70 renovated edifices attributed to him, among them are Mosques, Madrasas, Agencies, Fountain houses (Sabils), Kuttabs, houses, military edifices like the Citadels in Alexandria and Rosetta (Nowadays the city of Rashid). These Citadels were built to protect the north of Egypt, mainly against the Ottomans, whose power was increasing in the Mediterranean.

Qagmas Al-Eshaqy, The Edifices Mason, was the architect of the Citadel. Before his arrival in Egypt he was a Mameluke of Djakmaq in Syria. During the rule of Qaitbay he became the edifices mason, and then the Viceroy of Alexandria. He was appointed governor of Syria (Damascus), built a Mosque outside the gate of Rashid (Bab Rashid) as well as a Cenotaph and a Khan. He also renovated the Mosque of El-Sawary outside the gate of Sadrah (Bab Sadrah).

Qagmas was intelligent and modest, as well as the overseer of many constructions during the time of Qaitbay. In 882 H. (1477 A.D) the Sultan Qaitbay visited the site of the old lighthouse in Alexandria and ordered a fortress to be built on its foundations. The construction lasted about 2 years, and it is said thatQaitbay spent more than a hundred thousand Dinars for the work on the Citadel.

Ibn Ayas mentioned that building of this fort started in the month of Rabi Alawal 882 H. He said that the Sultan Qaitbay travelled to Alexandria, accompanied with some other Mameluke princes, to visit the site of the old lighthouse and during this visit he ordered the building of the Citadel.

In the month of Shaban 884 H, the Sultan Qaitbay travelled again to Alexandria when the construction was finished. He provided the fort with a brave legion of soldiers and various weapons. He also, as Ibn Ayas mentioned, dedicated several waqfs from which he financed the construction works as well as the salaries of the soldiers.

Throughout the Mameluke period, and due to its strategic location, the Citadel was well maintained by all the rulers who came after Qaitbay.

The Sultan Qansoh El-Ghoury gave the Citadel special attention. He visited it several times and increased the strength of the garrison, providing it with various weapons and equipment. It included a large prison made for the princes and the state-men whom the Sultan kept away from his favour for some reason. In the episodes of the year 920 H, the Sultan El-Ghoury travelled to Alexandria with other princes. They went to the Citadel of Qaitbay where he watched some manoeuvres and military training on the defensive weapons of the Citadel of that era. When he felt the approach of the Ottoman threat, he issued a military decree to forbid weapons to be taken out of the Citadel, he even announced that the death penalty would be the punishment to those who try to steal anything from the Citadel, and he ordered the inscription of this decree on a marble slate fixed to the door leading the court.

After the Ottoman Turks had conquered Egypt, even they cared for this unique Citadel. They used it for shelter, as they had done with the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo and the Citadels of Damieta, Rosetta, Al Borollos and El-Arish. They kept it in good condition and stationed it with infantry, artillery, a company of drummers and trumpeters, masons and carpenters.

As the Ottoman military became weak, the Citadel began to lose its military importance. In 1798 A.D, during the French expedition of Egypt, it fell into the hands of the French troops, mainly because of the weakness of the Citadel garrison, and the power of the French modern weapons at that time. Inside, the French found some crusader weapons, which dated back to the campaign of Louis IX. Maybe it was a spoil after the battle and capture of El-Mansoura!

When Mohammed Ali became the ruler of Egypt in 1805, he renovated the old Citadel, restoring and repairing its outer ramparts, and he provided the stronghold with the most modern weapons of the period, particularly the littoral cannons. We can consider the reign of Mohamed Ali as being another golden era for the Citadel.

The Citadel retained the interest of Mohammed Ali’s successors until the year 1882 when the Orabi revolution took place The British fleet bombarded Alexandria violently on 11 July 1882 and damaged a large part of the city, especially in the area of the Citadel. This attack cracked the fortress, causing great damage. The north and western facades were severely damaged as a result of cannon explosions, aimed directly at the structure. The western facade was completely destroyed, leaving large gaps in it.

Unfortunately, the Citadel then remained neglected, until 1904 when the Ministry of Defence restored the Upper floors. King Farouk wanted to turn the Citadel into a royal Rest house so he ordered a rapid renovation on it.

Ras El Soda Temple

Ras El Soda Temple

Ras El Soda Temple

It was situated in Ras El Soda area on the agricultural road leading to El Montazah and Abu Qear and near the eastern company of Linen. In the early 19th and 20th centuries, this temple was transported to Bab Sharq.

It was discovered in 1936, and it is the only private temple discovered so far in Alexandria.

It was built by the Roman charioteer Ezadoras as a thank giving for Isis, on the recovery of his foot which was broken when he felt of his chariot.

The temple consists of a platform built of limestone and approached by a staircase. At the middle of the platform, there is a small pedestal on which the votive marble statue of Ezadoras was placed.

There are also four Ionic marble columns and five marble statues between them;

  • The 1st statue:

It belongs to Hermanubis who is depicted as a young man wearing a Greek tunic with a torch in his hand, and next to his feet there is a seated figure of Jackal (Anubis).

  • The 2nd statue:

It belongs to god Harpocratis who is depicted as a naked child with his thumb in his mouth, he is also shown with a side lock of hair.

  • The 3rd statue:

It is the largest one and it belongs to goddess Isis who is depicted in the Greek form as a standing figure of a woman wearing a tunic with a knot on her dress, she is also crowned with two horns and a sun disk, and she holds the situla (jar for sacred water).

The 4th and 5th statues:

They are for god Osiris in canopic form, he is represented as a jar and its lid takes the shape of the head of god Osiris.

The pedestal, the votive marble foot and 5 marble statues are now in the Graeco Roman museum at Alexandria.

On one side of the platform, there is a staircase leading to two rooms, one behind the other and the second room is smaller and its floor is higher than that of the first room.

The second room also has benches along the side walls therefore; some scholars believed that this room was used as a living quarter for the priests of the temple.

The Roman Theatre

It is situated in Kom El Dekka area opposite to the railway station of Alexandria. It is the only theatre discovered so far in Alexandria. It was discovered by the Polish Expedition in 1960 when they were removing the remains of the Napoleonic fort.

This theatre was built in 1st century AD, and went to various developments until it was converted into a closed a simply religious hall in the 6th century AD.

The theatre consists of an auditorium & a skene and between them there is the place of the orchestra. When the theatre was built, its diameter was 42 m. and it is very difficult to estimate the number of the steps of the auditorium.

In the 3rd century AD, the outer façade of the theatre collapsed, then the theatre was restored and as a result the diameter of the theatre was reduced into 33.5 and the number of steps became 16 steps.

In the 6th century AD, this theatre was converted from an open air theatre to a closed a simply religious court as they followed the following steps;

  1. They reduced the number of steps from 16 to 13, while the diameter remains 33.5 m. ”all the steps are made out of marble except for the lowest one which was made out of red granite”.
  2. They extend the either sides of the auditorium towards the skene, and the shape of the theatre changed from half circular shape to a semi circular shape.
  3. Triple arcade was built in the skene and then they covered the whole construction with a dome which rested on the top of the auditorium and the triple arcade.

These alterations were not on sound architectural bases, therefore, it was not long and the dome collapsed and the theatre stopped from being used.

The floor of the skene still retains some of its original mosaics which take the shape of Geometrical motifs such as circles, squares and rectangular.

Pompey’s pillar

It was erected in 292 AD, on the top of the platform of the temple of Serapis by the people of Alexandria as a thank giving for the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

There was a revolt at Alexandria and the Roman Emperor came and surrounded the city until it surrendered because of hunger and famine, when he entered the city, he distributed wheat and corn among the people of Alexandria for free in order to decrease the effect of the famine on the people, in return the people of Alexandria erected this pillar as a way to thank him.

This pillar was made out of red granite and consists of the base, the shaft and the capital. It measures about 26.85 m. in height; while its diameter at the tower end was 23 m. in other words it is tapering towards the top.

The capital of the pillar was of Corinthian type. On one side of the base of the column, there was a text which read as; (Posthumous, the prefect of Alexandria built it for the most just Emperor Diocletian).

In the middle ages, the crusaders believed that the head of Pompey, the Roman leader, was buried on the top of this column, and therefore they named it as Pompey’s pillar. But this is a misnomer because Pompey was killed in 48 BC, and this column was erected in 292 AD. Moreover the text on the base confirms that this column was erected for the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Valley of the Queens

The Valley of the Queens is located on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) near Valley of the Kings; (Thebes was the capital of the Ancient Egyptian dynasties during the period of the New Kingdom) There are between 75 and 80 tombs in the Valley of the Queens, or Biban al-Harim.  These belong to Queens of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties.

The Valley of the Queens is a place in where wives of Pharaohs were buried in ancient times. In ancient times, it was known as Ta-Set-Neferu, meaning the place of the Children of the Pharaoh. The tombs of these individuals were maintained by mortuary priests who performed daily rituals and provided offerings and prayers for the deceased nobility.

This valley contains several tombs which started to be built in the Valley of the Queens during the period of the New Kingdom (1570 BC – 1070 BC).

There are over 100 tombs such as The Tomb of Khaemwese; The Tomb of Queen Titi (She is probably the queen of a 20th Dynasty); The Tomb of Amenhikhopeshef (was a son of Ramesses III); the most famous of all the tombs in the Valley of the Queens was that of Nefertari (One of five wives of Ramesses II, Nefertari was his favorite) The tomb deals with two major issues, Nefertari’s beauty and her religious zeal. There are no battle scenes or depictions of her good, worldly actions. The quality of the wall paintings and the color splendor rivals the very best found in the Valley of the Kings ; In order to protect the tomb, only 150 visitors are allowed every day, and all must wear masks and shoe pads.

The tombs were built according to patterns from the Valley of the Kings, but on a smaller scale and most of the tombs are very simple; the general layout is long corridor with antechambers and the burial chamber at the end.

About ninety tombs have been located in the valley, some of them simple pit tombs, others with corridors along a straight or L-shaped axis with small side chambers. A few, mostly from the reign of Rameses II. At least ten of the tombs begun in the valley were never finished, probably because poor quality bedrock; over sixty per cent of the tombs known today are anonymous because such damage has erased evidence of names or titles.

Valley of the Kings

The tombs of the royal rulers of Egypt from the 18th dynasty to the end of the 20th dynasty are located on the western bank of Thebes, for kings from the times of the king Thutmosis I who was the first to be buried in the Valley of the Kings to the reign of Ramesses XI.

The Valley of the Kings is divided into two main parts:

01. Eastern valley:

This is the true royal cemetery from the 18th to 20th dynasty.

02. Western valley:

Includes only four tombs, they are the tombs of Amenhotep III, Ay and two other un inscribed tombs.

– There is more than 60 tombs in the Valley of the Kings as a whole. One of the major features of the tombs is their separation from the royal mortuary temples.

– The only female ruler to bury in the Valley of the Kings is Queen Hatshepsut k.v 20; it was discovered by Charter in 1903.

– Much earlier, the 1st time to excavate the Valley of the Kings was in 1827 by John Wilkinson who discovered 30 tombs at that time and gave each tomb a number.

The tomb of Amenhotep II considered one of the most significant, for several reasons:

– He was the first to change the style of the burial chamber from cartouche into rectangular.

– It includes complete version of emy dw3t.

– It is considered a mummy cashette as there is eight Pharaohs bodies were discovered (Amenhotep III, Thutmosis XI, Merenptah, Sy Ptah, Ramesses IV, Ramesses V, Ramesses VI). Plus the mummy of Amenhotep II himself. three mummies for women, one of them might be the wife of Amenhotep III (Queen Tiye) and one mummy for a young boy who was probably st nkht, son of Ay.

The Mummification Museum

Mummification Museum of Egypt is located in Luxor city of Egypt. It is a new museum dedicated to the process of mummification of Egypt and is situated north to Luxor Temple. It is a small museum but the unique one dedicated to Egyptian art of burial.

The word “mummification” comes from the Persian word “mummya” meaning bitumen or pitch. In the Arabic language mummification means tahneet and it comes from the word “hanoot”, meaning the substances that are used to aromatize the body of the deceased.

The ancient Egyptians imagined the underground world of the dead, where Osiris dwelt, though this actually changed over time. From very early times, they protected the afterlife of the dead by mummification, offerings, writing the name of the deceased and utterances in their calls.

According to their beliefs, the ancient Egyptians thought that the survival of the body was necessary for the survival of the seven different elements of their being. These include: The physical body, which was mummified, wrapped in linen and protected with various amulets in a coffin and deposited within its tomb.

The mummification process changed somewhat over time. In general though, shortly after death, the body of the deceased was brought to the pr-nefr, which means “the beautiful house” or the place of mummification. The body was stripped of its clothes, and the embalmers washed the body with scared water, which was taken from a sacred local lake.

A chisel was passed through the ethnocide bone into the cranial cavity, and with a spatula they cut the brain into small pieces. Then a hooked rod was inserted, and turned to make the brain liquefy in order to extract the brain through the nostrils. After that, they cleaned the skull cavity with palm wine, stuffed it with linen and poured resinous liquid into the skull. After treating the head, the embalmers moved to the trunk of the body.

The viscera were extracted through an incision, which was usually made in the left side of the abdomen. Through it, they extracted all of the entrails except the heart. The thoracic and abdominal cavities were cleaned and rinsed with palm-wine, and then treated with powder and ointment.

The museum shows a wonderfully mummified vertical section of a body to show the result of this process. They show, as well, the instruments used in the process like the scissors, scalpel, and cutters.

Lastly they placed each organ in one of four so-called canopic jars. These jars take the form of the four sons of Horus, who protected the mummified viscera.

After they finished the extraction of the viscera they washed the body cavity with palm-wine. Then they inserted into the thoracic and abdominal cavities temporary stuffing materials enclosed in linen packets containing dry natron to speed dehydration of the body tissues and fats. Other packets were full of sawdust to absorb liquids.

The next and final stage in the embalming process was the treatment of the whole body with natron. A type of salt, it extracts the water in the body tissues, drying it out to dehydrate the body. They placed the body in a heap of solid natron on a slanting bed and piled the natron around the body for forty days. The temporary stuffing packages and the natron dried the body, and were changed regularly by the embalmers. After the forty days, the body was taken out of the natron and the temporary stuffing packages were removed from the thoracic and abdominal cavities. They washed the chest and abdominal cavity with palm wine and stuffed.

It with fresh dry materials; these included aromatically perfumed cloth packing, Nile mud, myrrh, cassia, linen, resin, saw dust, and one or two onions.

They then closed the two lips of the incision with linen string. After that the body was anointed with cedar oil. The mouth, ears, and the nose were sealed with bee’s wax or linen in molten resin and the body was wrapped with linen. The aim of the wrapping was to preserve the mummy. Binding was used to keep the wrapping tight and in place.

This museum features hall of artifacts, one lecture hall, video room and cafeteria. Hall of artifacts is classified into two parts. The first one is an ascended corridor that has ten tablets that throw lights on the funeral process from the death to the burial. The second part of the hall of artifacts began with an end of the corridor.

The artifacts of the second part are concentrating on eleven topics. It include gods of Ancient Egypt, Embalming materials, Organic materials used in process of mummification, Embalming fluid, Tools of mummification, Canopic jars, Ushabatis, Amulets, Coffin of Padiamum, Mummy of Masaherta and the mummified animals.

Mummification Museum of Egypt displays both human and animal mummies. However, along with these there is also a display of tools used in the process of mummification as well as artifacts items buried along with the mummies. Egyptian believed in life after death and that is why they buried items related to the person along with the dead body.

This museum provides all information related to mummification art. There is a statue of Anubis, the jackal-god who presided over the dead, at the entrance to the museum.

Temple of Medinet Habu

One of the most impressive temples in Egypt, Medinet Habu is both a temple complex and a complex of temples, for the great estate encompasses the main temple of Ramesses III and several smaller structures from earlier and later periods. The main temple itself is the best preserved of all the mortuary temples of Thebes – containing more than 7,000 sq. m (75,350 sq. ft) of decorated surfaces across its walls and providing an excellent temple of the developed New kingdom temple form and plan. The temple is aligned approximately south-east to northwest, but conventionally the southeast side facing the Nile is described as east.

The modern name of the site, Medinet Habu or “City of Habu”, is often said to have originated from the temple of Amenophis son of Hapu, which stood a few hundred metres to the north; but this seems unlikely historically and the actual meaning of the name is unsure. Anciently the site was called Djamet by the Egyptians, and according to popular belief its holy ground was the place where the Ogdoad, the first primeval gods, were buried. As such it was a particularly sacred site long before the construction of Ramesses’s temple and remained so long after that great institution fell into disuse. During New Kingdom times, each year at the Ten Day festival the god Amun of Luxor – where the Ogdoad were supported to have been born – crossed over from his temple to re-enact the funerary services for these primeval deities in order to renew them and thus creation itself.

During the reign of king Ramesses III and even after the king’s cult had declined, Medinet Hbu functioned as the administrative centre of western Thebes. It was here, for example, that the workmen who constructed the royal tombs in the valley of the kings came to demand payment when they went on strike; and it was in the great fortified complex that many of the area’s inhabitants took refuge when Upper Egypt was engulfed in civil war after the close of the 20th dynasty and in other times of trouble. Eventually the great walls of the complex were breached in a sustained attack, and later, during the Christian era, the whole area was covered by the Coptic town of Djeme and even the great temple itself was filled with dwellings and one of its courts used as a church. Nevertheless, the administrative and defensive values of the site far outlived the cult of Ramesses’ monument, and it was able to avoid many of the predations to which other temples inevitably fell victim.

  • The High Gate

In ancient times Medinet Habu was fronted by an impressive landing quay at which the boats that came to the site via the canals which linked the temple to the Nile could moor. This quay stood before the main, eastern entrance to the complex – a large gateway of distinctive design modeled after a western Asiatic migdol or fortress. Fronted by guard houses, the sides of this gateway are decorated with images of the king trampling the enemies of Egypt, and sculpted figures of the monarch standing atop the heads of captives project from the walls. A large relief representation of the god Ptah at this point also served an intermediary function, having the power to transmit the prayers of those unable to enter the temple to the great god Amun within.

The upper rooms of the gate house are of particular interest as they functioned as a kind of royal retreat or harem, and are replete with representations of the king relaxing with young women. It was probably here that the assassination attempt directed against Ramesses III by one of his minor queens was carried out; and although the plot was discovered and the perpetrators brought to justice, the king died during the course of the trial and it is not known whether this was the result of natural causes, or of the effects of the attempt on his life.

  • Chapels of the Divine Adoratrices

Inside and to the left of the gateway are the remains of several mortuary chapels constructed during the 25th and 26th dynasties for the Divine Adoratrices of Amun who ruled Upper Egypt at that time, at least nominally, on behalf of the king. The first chapel, that of Amenerdis, is the best preserved and consists of a forecourt with offering table and an inner and mortuary chapel, beneath which the adoratrice was buried in a hidden crypt. The relief carvings in this monument are well executed and, for the most part, in fairly good condition. On the lintels above the entrances to these chapels may still be seen the “Appeal to the Living” which encouraged passers-by and visitors to pronounce the offering formula – the ancient prayers for afterlife sustenance – for the spirits of these Divine Adoratrices.

  • The Small Temple

To the right of the entrance stands the so-called “Small Temple” which was founded in the 18th dynasty and repeatedly expanded and usurped under later dynasties. Although the core of this monument was begun by Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, the queen’s name was replaced by those of her predecessors, Tuthmosis I and II. The structure was incorporated into Ramesses’ temple complex and its entrance later replaced by a pylon of the Nubian king Shabaka and then usurped by his nephew Taharqa. A small fronting gateway was built during the 26th dynasty and usurped during the 29th by Nectanebo I. During the Ptolemaic Period the inner colonnade was developed, along with a stone-faced pylon (containing many reused blocks from the Ramesseum) and a large gateway. Finally, in the Roman Period, a columned portico and court were begun but left unfinished by Antoninus Pius. This structure outgrew the encircling walls of the larger temple and in was later the only part of the massive complex still to function.

To the north of the Small Temple are the sacred lake, and the so-called “Nilometer” – actually a well constructed by Nectanebo I with a passage leading down to the groundwater level.

  • The main temple

Called “The Temple of User-Maat-Re Meriamun [the throne name of Ramesses III] United with Eternity in the Possession of Amun in Western Thebes”, this great monument is uniquely impressive. The massive outer pylons are perhaps the most imposing of any temple in Egypt and are decorated with colossal images of the king destroying captured enemies before the gods. On the northern pylon the king wears the red crown of Lower (northern) Egypt and, on the southern tower the dual crown incorporating the white crown of the south, thus marketing a theme of orientational dualism which appears quite frequently in the temple’s decoration.

The temple’s outer walls also depict historically important battle and victory scenes, showing Ramesses and his army triumphing against the Libyans and Sea Peoples who attached Egypt during the king’s reign. These themes are continued within the temple’s first court with scenes of soldiers counting hands and Phalli of the enemy dead, showing the grisly realities of war. This court was flanked on the northern side by large engaged statues of the divine king as Osiris and, on the south, a columned portico with the “window of appearances” in which the king stood or sat during formal ceremonies and festivals.

The large Osiride statues of the second court were ruthlessly destroyed in the early Christian era by the Copts, who converted the area into a Christian church, though many of the original relief scenes that were painted over at this time have in fact survived in fairly good condition. These scenes depict various rituals connected with the ithyphallic fertility god Min and, on the rear wall of the portico, a procession of the king’s numerous sons and daughters.

The Hypostyle halls and areas beyond are largely destroyed, but a number of side rooms still stand dedicated to various gods (including the deified Ramesses II whose mortuary temple Ramesses III copied in many aspects) and o the needs of temple administration. The chambers contain several well-preserved scenes; of particular interest are ones in the treasury on the southern side (Ramesses with Thoth weighing gold before Amun-Re), in the internal temple of Re-Horakhty on the north (the king and baboons worshipping the solar barque and the king offering before the ka and ba of Re), and in the suite or internal temple of Osiris on the southwest (including Thoth and Iunmutef before the deified king and the temple personified as a goddess).

The shrines of the three members of the Theban triad, Amun, Mut and Khonsu, at the rear of the temple are backed by a large false door through which the spirit of the king might enter and leave his monument, as well as a number of concealed rooms which were probably used to store the temple’s most important treasures – as opposed to those kept openly in the treasury.

  • The Royal Palace

The main temple is surrounded by the remains of many buildings: houses, magazines and storerooms, workshops, barracks, offices, etc; but the most important of these ancillary structures is the royal palace on the monument’s southern side. Today, only the lowest courses and some repaired features of this palace can be seen, but the originally two-storey building was of considerable size and contained a number of rooms of different purposes. . The palace seems, in fact, to have possibly functioned as both an actual dwelling for Ramesses when he visited the temple to officiate in its ceremonies, and also as a kind of spiritual abode for the king in the afterlife. Thus, like the temple itself, the palace contains a false door for the coming and going of the king’s spirit. The structure was directly connected to the temple’s first court by means of doorways and also by means of the “window of appearances”.

Luxor Museum

Luxor Museum is located in the Egyptian city of Luxor (which was called Thebes in the Greco Roman period). It stands on the Cornich, overlooking the west bank of the immortal River Nile, in the central part of the city. This museum was inaugurated in 1975.

Museum of Luxor or Luxor Museum is one of the best display centers of Egyptian antiquities, housed within a modern building the collection of the museum is limited to certain numbers but is of tremendous importance and significant and are beautifully displayed. The museum is housed in a small, purpose-built building. The range of artifacts on display is far more restricted than the country’s main collections in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo; this was, however, deliberate, since the museum prides itself on the quality of the pieces it has, the uncluttered way in which they are displayed, and the clear multilingual labeling used. The main item of collection of Luxor Museum includes statues from the famous Couchette found buried in Temple of Luxor as well as small collection of items from the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

The ground floor of the museum contains masterpieces of Egyptian sculpture including a calcite double statue of Sobek (the crocodile god) and of king Amenhotep III one of the 18th dynasty kings). One of the main attraction items of Luxor museum is a reassembled wall of 283 painted sandstone blocks from a wall of a temple built in honor of king Amenhotep IV.

There are numerous other antiquities of interest in the museum among which one is a couple of very nice coffins, and among the most striking items on show are grave goods from the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) and a collection of 26 exceptionally well preserved New Kingdom statues that were found buried in a cache in nearby Luxor Temple in 1989.

The royal mummies of two pharaohs ‘’Ahmose I and Ramesses I’’ were also put on display in the Luxor Museum in March 2004, as part of the new extension to the museum, which includes a small visitor centre. A major exhibit is a reconstruction of one of the walls of Akhenaton’s temple at Karnak. One of the featured items in the collection is a calcite double statue of the crocodile god Sobek and the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Temple of Edfu

The site of ancient Djeba (Coptic Etbo, Arabic Edfu) was the traditional location of the mythological battle between the gods Horus and Seth; and its sandstone Ptolemaic temple, dedicated to Horus, is the most complete and best preserved of all the temples of Egypt. built on the site of  a new kingdom temple which was oriented east to west, the Ptolemaic structure follows instead a south-north axis and thus left the remains of the old (and apparently much smaller) temple’s entrance pylon standing at a 90-degree angle to its own entrance. Due to an unusually high number of building inscriptions preserved here, we know many of the details of the newer temple’s history. It was evidently begun by Ptolemy III in 237 BC and completed 180 years later in 57 BC. The inner part of the structure, with its decorations, was finished in 207 BC, though political unrest in Upper Egypt (especially in the time of Ptolemies IV and V) meant that the dedication of the temple did not accomplished till 140 BC. In the following decades the hypostyle hall was built (completed in 122 BC); and the outermost elements – the peristyle court and entrance pylons – were then added and finally completed in 57 BC, in the reign of Ptolemy XII Auletes, the father of the last Cleopatra.

Unusually, the twin towers of the great entrance pylon of the temple were planned as perfect mirror images of each other, both in their construction and in the rather curiously rendered scenes carved on their surfaces. Two statues of Horus as a falcon flank the entrance gate, and behind the pylon, at the base of the walls on either side of the entrance, are scenes depicting the “Feast of the Beautiful Meeting” in which Horus of Edfu was united with Hathor of Dendera. The peristyle court is now paved in the manner of its original surface, and the columns of the surrounding colonnade are carefully arranged with paired capitals of varied forms.

Gates at the court’s inner corners lead to the long passage-like ambulatory – really a narrow inner court – which lies between the inner temple and its surrounding enclosure wall. The walls are here decorated with scenes and inscriptions of various types including a mythical foundation text and, of particular interest, the text of the “dramatic” ritual in which Horus defeats his enemy Seth.

Before the façade of the hypostyle hall stands the famous statue of Horus as a giant falcon wearing the double crown of Egypt, a statue embodying the majesty of the ancient god as well as his fusion with the institution of kingship. The façade itself, with its intercolumnar screen wall and engaged columns, is not unlike that of Dendera, and the interior parts of the temple show a progressively increasing similarity with that temple. The first hypostyle hall has two small engaged chambers on its south wall, one a library and the other a robing room similar to that at Esna. The hall contains 12 impressive columns and although the ceiling they support has no decoration, the side walls have traditional scenes including several showing the foundation ceremony of the temple. The second, smaller hypostyle which lies beyond also has 12 columns, though oriented in a room deeper than it is wide. The eastern side has an exit leading out to the temple’s well and a chamber for storing liquid offerings, while a door on the western side accessed a chamber for solid offerings. Another door led to the “laboratory” where incense was prepared.

Beyond the two hypostyles is a transverse offering hall and vestibule and the sanctuary itself, which still contains a granite naos-type shrine of Nectanebo II – the oldest element in the temple and one clearly saved from an earlier temple on the site to provide continuity to the newer structure. The main sanctuary is surrounded by a number of chapels including those of Min, Osiris, Khonsu, Hathor and Re, as well as a “chamber of linen” and a “chamber of the throne of the gods”. The chapel at the very rear of the sanctuary contains a modern reproduction of the god’s barque which gives a good idea of its size and general appearance, if not of its precious materials. To the east of the sanctuary entrance a door opens to the small court which led in turn to the stairway used to reach the temple roof in the New Year’s festival which was celebrated here in a manner similar to that of the ritual of Dendera. As there, the figure of priests and standard bearers line the stairwell walls, but only that on the west side of the temple (originally the descending stair) can now be accessed. The roof of this temple lacks many of these may have originally existed here also. Instead of cult chapels the only remaining structures are magazines, several with hidden chambers within or beside them.

To the south of the temple of Horus, just outside the portal of the processional way, is the mammisi. Like the Roman period mammisi of Dendera – which was modeled after this building – this birth house was built at right angles to the main temple, and the two structures follows the same general plan. Here, however, more of the forward part of the structure is preserved. A little more of the colonnade, for example, is intact, its intercolumnar screens decorated with the rather curious mixture of Pharaonic and classical motifs sometimes found in these late structures. The birth room itself was surrounded by an ambulatory of columns linked by low walls – strangely, cut down in antiquity to about half their height – but which preserve in palaces their original colouring, especially on the south side of the building. Many of the motifs found here are the same as those decorating the mammisi of Dendera: the figures of the dwarf-god Bes on the abaci of the columns; and on the lintels, the representations of the infant Harsomptus (offspring of Horus and Hathor) worshipped by pairs of deities. The birth room contains various offering and ritual scenes of the king (Ptolemy VIII) and the gods, and in the upper registers of the north and south walls birth scenes and scenes of Harsomptus being nursed by various goddesses. At the centre of the south wall the god Thoth establishes the reign of the king who is followed by his mother, wife and son in the kind of legitimizing scene often associated with birth rooms. Elsewhere the “Feast of the Beautiful Meeting” in which Horus and Hathor were united is subtly evoked in scenes of the barques of the two deities.