Karnak and the Temple at Luxor, Egypt

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Karnak Temple and the Temple of Luxor

Our overriding memory of our first night in Luxor was the heat. We arrived in Luxor on the overnight train and having been met by our guide from Select Egypt we went straight to Karnak Temple. The temperature started at 45 degress celsius (it was the middle of August!) and by the time we reached the Temple of Luxor it had got even hotter and we were all flagging. We were therefore extremely grateful for a guide to help us get the most in the shortest time before we returned to the our hotel (the Iberotel Luxor).

Karnak Temple

The Processional Way flanked by Ram-headed Sphinxes at Karnak TempleBefore you reach Karnak Temple proper there is a large visitors centre with an enormous model of the Temple complex. Our guide took us through to the other side and we walked sluggishly to the impressive entrance with two long rows of rams leading to an giant gateway into the temple itself.

Apparently the temple was originally built to dedicate the god Armun Ra. The children were facinated by the various cartouches on the walls of the temple and slowly we made our we through the complex, seeing the Obelisk of Hatshepsut, the precinct of Amun, many columns and carvings too numerous to even remember let alone relate until we final arrive at a cafe, close to the centre of the the complex.

Here we sat and drank the most expensive cans of Tango and Coke that we've ever had (each can was equivalent to about £2.50) but it was worth it to cool ourselves down. The a quick three times around the beetle statue (apparently for good luck although we tricked our youngest into going round 6 times which supposedly means he's getting married - he wasn't impressed) and then we made our way back to the bus.

Temple of Luxor

The Temple of Luxor is equally impressive. This temple was apparently originally built for Amunhotep III but it has an equally interesting Islamic and Christian history too. It too has a row of statues, this time a long row of sphinxes (known as The Avenue of Sphinxes) leading to a gate that should be flanked by two large obelisks. However one of these is missing and now stands in at the Place De La Concorde in Paris. There are also two large statues wearing the joint crown of upper and lower Egypt.

The Mosque of Abu el-HaggagWalking through the entrance leads you to the impressive Court of Ramses II and to the left there is working mosque (Mosque of Abu el-Haggag) built literally onto the top of the temple. Walking further takes you through a fabulous colonnade (Colonnade of Amenophis III) and then into the Court of Amenophis. On the fall wall are paintings of Roman Emperors literally painted over the top of the original ancient egyptian ones.

A Tourist Con

I am not going to recount everything we saw - there are plenty of good guide books and sites for that but I will tell you of a little con we fell into. It was nothing serious but our guide had given us half an hour of free time to explore. We were hot and tired as it was almost midday and the heat had reached 46 degrees. We sought out the shelter of some of the shadows in the rooms towards the back of the temple. At one turn we encountered a Egyptian Tourist Policeman who was talking to another man who was standing close to a section of the wall that was worn down so it was almost shiny.

The policeman engaged us in broken English explaining that you could touch this stone for good luck. We were not particularly interested in doing so but slightly intimidated by the fact that it was a policeman, we obliged only to find the policeman's hand out waiting for payment (for his guidance or simply permission to touch the wall I'm not sure). We paid a small amount (I can't remember how much but it wasn't much in English Pounds) and retreated. As we turned the corner I noticed the Policeman handing the money over to the other man! Hardly the end of the world but a little annoying. We decided not to make an issue over it!