Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple
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Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is a vast temple complex located just north of present day Luxor and dedicated primarily to Amun Ra. It dates from before 2,000 B.C. and is second only to the Great Pyramids in popularity.

When Thebes emerged as the capital of New Kingdom Egypt during the 16th century B.C. it was soon embellished with enormous temples worthy of the majesty of the pharaohs; the greatest of these was at Karnak.

The Karnak Temple complex is stunning in both its dimensions and lay out, and was known in ancient times as the Northern House of Amun. Karnak was the center of his cult worship together with that of his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. Each had a separate "precinct" within the temple complex, as did Montu, the falcon-headed local god.

Construction at Karnak began during the 16th century B.C. and continued into the Greco-Roman era. Altogether, some 30 successive pharaohs over almost a 1,300 year period have added their own shrines, temples, monuments and Pylons to the site which grew to directly encompass an area of over five square kilometres. The complex contains over 25 temples and chapels, including separate shrines for the three boats that took the statues of the gods on their annual trip up the Nile. Sanctuaries, obelisks, and groups of columns litter the site, all featuring accounts of the heroic deeds of the sponsoring pharaoh.

The key attribute of Karnak is the length of time over which it was constructed, enabling it to reach a size, complexity and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of its individual features are unique, but their sheer size and number makes for such an unusual ensemble. Its principal highlights, and there are many, include the Great Hypostyle Hall, considered one of the world’s great architectural achievements, with 134 enormous pillars and covering an area of 6,000 square meters, the Avenue of Sphinxes or Sacred Way and the Obelisk of Thutmose I.

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