Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city today known as Luxor (ancient Thebes) and was constructed approximately 1400 BCE.
The temple is one of the best preserved of all of the ancient monuments with large amounts of the structure, statuary and relief carvings still intact.
It is dedicated to Amon, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons.
Construction of the temple was begun by the pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC) and was completed by Tutankhamen (1336-27 BC) and Horemheb (1323-1295 BC) and then added to by Rameses II (1279-13 BC).
The Luxor Temple is constructed of sandstone blocks from Nubia, in southwest Egypt.
The temple complex is surrounded by mud-brick walls, symbolic of the separation between the world and the sacred realm of the gods.
The entrance to the temple itself is known as the first pylon. It was built by Ramesses II and was decorated with scenes of his military expeditions, in particular his triumph at the battle of Kadesh. The pylon towers originally supported four huge cedar flag masts from which banners would have fluttered in the breeze.
Two red granite obelisks originally stood in front of the first pylon at the rear of the forecourt, but only one, more than 25 meters (75 feet) high, now remains. The other was removed to Paris where it now stands in the center of the Place de la Concorde.
Six colossal statues of Ramesses II, two of them seated, flanked the entrance, though today only the two seated ones have survived. The one to the east was known as “Ruler of the Two Lands”.
The outer courtyard is entered after passing through the pylon gate. The outer courtyard at Luxor is known as the courtyard of Ramesses II. It is 57 meters (188 feet) long and 51 meters (168 feet) wide. Seventy four papyrus columns, with bud capitals surround it and in the Northwest corner of the court there is a shrine to Thutmose III, while in the southern part of the court there are a number of standing colossi of Ramses II.
The Luxor temple has two outer courtyards connected by a column line hallway called a Colonnade. The Colonnade has seven pairs of 16 meters (52 foot) high open-flower papyrus columns, which still support their huge architrave blocks.
The courtyard of Amenhotep III is connected to the courtyard of Ramsses II by the colonnade. The Court of Amonhotep III measures 45 meters (148 feet long) by 56 meters (184 feet wide), with double rows of papyrus columns on three sides.
Walking through the courtyard of Amenhotep III the next area is the Hypostyle hall. The term “Hypostyle” refer to a now non-existent roof that was supported by a row of columns. Columns are not only support the roof but fill the whole hall, the hypostyle hall within the temple of Luxor contain four rows of eight columns each or 32 total columns Only the Pharaoh and the Priest can enter this area of the temple.
The central chamber on the axis south of the Hypostyle Hall was the cult sanctuary of Amun, stuccoed over by the Romans in the 3rd century AD and painted with scenes of Roman officials: some of this is still intact and vivid. Through this chamber, either side of which are chapels dedicated to Mut and Khonsu, is the four-columned antechamber, where offerings were made to Amun, and immediately behind it the Barque Shrine of Amun , rebuilt by Alexander the Great, with reliefs portraying him as an Egyptian pharaoh.
To the east a doorway leads into two rooms. The first is Amenhotep III’s “birth room” [photo below] with scenes of his symbolic divine birth. You can see the moment of his conception, when the fingers of the god touch those of the queen and ‘his dew filled her body’, according to the accompanying hieroglyphic caption. The Sanctuary of Amenhotep III is the last chamber; it still has the remains of the stone base on which Amun’s statue stood, and although it was once the most sacred part of the temple, the busy street that now runs directly behind it makes it less atmospheric.
Like other Egyptian structures a common technique used was symbolism, or illusionism.
Luxor Temple was the focus of one of the most important religious festivals in ancient Egypt – the annual Opet Festival.
The temple of Luxor has, since its inception, always been a sacred site. After Egypt’s pagan period, a Christian church and monastery was located here, and after that, a mosque (13th century Mosque of Abu el-Haggag) was built that continues to be used today.
The name Luxor represents both the present-day metropolis that was ancient Thebes, and the temple. “Luxor” derives from the Arabic al-uksur, meaning “fortifications“.