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Egypt – Luxor & Karnak Temples

Luxor temple at night

Luxor is packed with amazing sites which meant discovery after dark. We squeezed this visit to Luxor temple in just before it closed for a TV spectacular on thanksgiving day. Want to see the official event, check it out here.

Official logo

Our visit focused on the key elements of the temple as crowds were plentiful and intermixed with a cacophony of TV crews, construction teams. This temple embodies 6000 years of civilization spanning ancient Egypt, early Christianity and Islam. It raises the question of how to best preserve the essence of its existence without erasing newer eras. Not an easy feat for archeologists and preservationists.

Cultural intersections – temple, mosque and church built on top of each other

As the sun rose, we returned to Karnak temple for a day-time visit. Out Egyptologist Ahmed took is off the beaten path to rarely visited shrines and a secret hidden statue that took our breaths away. It is in this largest of temples of ancient Egypt where the value of a professional expert is most valuable. While most groups spend 45 minutes here in the main hall of pillars, our visit was two plus hours focused on the overall importance of this site.

Queen Hatshepsut obelisk at Karnak
Granite statue of Sekhmet in her private shrine

Our expert Egyptologist Ahmed tied together for us the latest science and discoveries to retell the story of this “Temple of temples” in context over 3000 years – each pharaoh adding his/her shrine and expansion to the site.

Recently restored engravings at Karnak temple
Hatshepsut shrine in red granite at Karnak
Spectacular engravings in rock hard granite

This temple is home to the Creation myth gods of Amun (sun god & chief god of Thebes); his wife and goddess Mut; and their son Khonsu. Each members of the sacred family known as the Theban Triad. As such, each of these gods had a temple with inner shrine, a pillared courtyard and avenue of rams leading up to each entrance. It is important to point out the connecting e km long avenue of Sphinx which the “made for TV” event celebrated. It was the cosmic connection between temples used to parade the gods on golden boats between temples twice a year. These massive ancient festivals were extremely important and it was amazing to witness the modern day reenactment. Egypt never stops to amaze!

Golden boats used in the parade

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