It’s the “largest temple in the world” according to locals. I’ve yet to confirm that, but the vastness of Karnak Temple was certainly overwhelming in the midday, (still) 105-degree heat.
The “entrance” to Karnak Temple
Belal and I decided this was the “back door” to Karnak Temple
various ruins at Karnak Temple
A miniature display of what Karnak Temple may have once looked like
A few minutes’ drive north of Luxor is El-Karnak, a true open-air museum (many cities in Egypt are called this, but Karnak boasts the largest number of sites – as some of my students are studying to tell tourists). Karnak Temple is actually a temple complex housing multiple chapels, pylons, obelisks, assorted temples, sphinx (and ram) avenues and royal chambers. It was worn in during the 18th Dynasty.
Belal is easily the most energetic of my students. He invited me to visit the temple with him, eager to show me something that would reflect well on his hometown.
I will admit it was nice to be surrounded by Westerners for a change, but I also appreciated escaping them when a few bored tour guides took me and Belal to a restricted portion of the ruins. We slipped past a couple of “no entry” signs and explored an archaeological site where French Egyptologists will return in winter to continue reviving the hieroglyphics and overall reconstruction of a specific temple (no one knew the name).
The excitement of that unsanctioned tour gave me new life in the (really, truly miserable) heat. It was an unexpected adventure.
Karnak Temple is littered with 134 of these massive columns; the bridge caught my eye – it looks like a set prop
Egyptians – Rated X since the 18th Dynasty
incredibly well-preserved carvings
more impressive preservation
temple workers and Belal
Belal and I
I adore the lotus flowers the Egyptians so often illustrate (to this day they are used in home decor of all sorts); they symbolize love
I sit atop the ancient throne of a pharaoh (aside from stairs leading up to it, I’m not sure how Egyptologists decided this was a throne)
a unique stone passage
a “gad” as Belal said; we had mini English lessons throughout the day, but he left with his pronunciation of “god” unchanged
Belal says “come on”
the “lake” inside Karnak Temple
squinting in awe
a row of rams with pharaoh beards line the second entryway into Karnak Temple
love birds, I think
Belal and I inside a tomb in the restricted area
a photo from inside the restricted area we explored; over my right shoulder (aka not pictured, unfortunately) is a two-story drop-off riddled with hieroglyphics – almost like a fancy laundry chute
a photo from inside the restricted area we explored; the men made a point of my getting a photo of the Christian emblem inside this ancient temple, but offered no explanation of it