Temple Complex of Karnak, Karnak Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Temple Complex of Karnak
The great temple complex of Karnak lies 2mi/3km northeast of Luxor within the area of ancient Thebes, near the modern village of Karnak. Within its precincts are the Great Temple of Amun, the Temple of Khons and the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III, as well as many other buildings; and ample time should be allowed for seeing all that this magnificent site has to offer.
Karnak Temple Precinct
From the Temple of Luxor a paved road, flanked on both sides by ram headed sphinxes with the effigy of Amenophis III between their legs, ran north to the temples of Karnak. The avenue of sphinxes in front of the Temple of Khons is a relic of this old processional way. It leads to a gateway built by Ptolemy III Euergetes I, with a winged sun on the cavetto cornice, which is the southwest entrance to the great walled Temple Precinct of Karnak. The reliefs on the gateway show Euergetes making offerings to the deities of Thebes.
The Great Temple of Amun is thought to have been started between 1991-1785 B.C., and added to by various rulers. Excavations have been extensive and on going, in the hopes of reconstructing buildings lost over the ages.
Kiosk of Sesostris
The Kiosk of Sesostris I, re-erected to the north of the Temple of Amun from the blocks found built into the Third Pylon and its vestibule, is the oldest structure in the whole temple complex. It can be seen only by special arrangement. Built of fine limestone, it was erected to commemorate the King's Jubilee. It stands on a substructure and is approached by ramps on the east and west sides. The roof is borne on 24 pillars, which, like the outer walls, are covered with reliefs of excellent quality. In the interior is a base for the sacred barque of Amun.
Temple of Ramesses II
Farther east from the Temple of Tuthmosis III, beyond an unexcavated mound of rubble, is a badly ruined Temple of Ramesses II built on the same axis as the principal temple, which cuts across an older brick enclosure wall. The entrance doorway, on the east side, leads into a hall with two Osiris pillars, behind which is a narrow hypostyle hall. In front of the doorway there was originally a hall dating from the reign of Taharqa, with 20 columns linked by screens. North of these structures are the remains of another Temple of Ramesses II, perhaps dedicated to the cult of King Mentuhotep III (11th Dynasty), which was restored in the time of Ptolemies. South of these remains, to the east of the Sacred Lake, are the remains of a brick building dating from before the Middle Kingdom.
To the southwest of the Ptolemaic gateway are the remains of a temple of the Ptolemaic period, and beyond this six small chapels, each with a sandstone gateway in the brick enclosure wall. The only considerable remains are those of the two chapels to the west, one of which bears the names of Amenirdis and her brother Shabaka. Farther on towards the Nile are brick dwelling houses, mostly in a state of ruin, and the remains of a small temple dedicated to Thoth by Ptolemy Philopator.
Temple of Osiris
Built against the enclosure wall is a small Temple of Osiris erected by Osorkon III (22nd Dynasty), his son and co-ruler Takelothis III and his daughter Shepwepet. The front chamber was added by Amenirdis, sister of Shabaka (25th Dynasty) and mother-in-law of Psammetichus I. In the vicinity are a number of small chapels of the 26th Dynasty.
Beyond the Temple of Ramesses II, to the east, we come to the well preserved East Gate (now closed) in the brick enclosure wall which surrounded the whole temple precinct. Built by Nectanebo I, it stands 62ft/19m high. The distance from the First Pylon to this gate is 515yd/470m.
Temple of Amenophis IV
Outside the East Gate a ruined Temple of Amenophis IV, with a hypostyle hall once contained colossal statues of the King. The mural reliefs in this temple were broken up and built into the Ninth and 10th Pylons. To the right (south) of the gate is a small building which bears the names of Ramesses III and IV.
Southern Temple Precinct
From the 10th Pylon an avenue of sphinxes dating from the reign of Horemheb (in which stones from Amenophis IV's temple, formerly built into the 10th Pylon, are now deposited) leads to a gateway built by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, with reliefs and long inscriptions, in the enclosure wall of the Southern Temple Precinct. To the east of the avenue is a Chapel of Osiris-Ptah built by the Ethiopian rulers Tanutamun and Taharqa (25th Dynasty), with well preserved painted mural reliefs. The gateway leads into an unexcavated area in which large figures of rams, sphinxes and a large alabaster stela of Amenophis III (usurped by Ramesses II) lie around.
Temple of Mut
Immediately south of the gateway is the Temple of Mut, also built by Amenophis III. In front of the entrance are pillars bearing figures of the god Bes. The doorway itself has long inscriptions of the Ptolemaic period (hymns to the goddess Mut) and an inscription of Ramesses III, who restored the temple.The doorway leads into a large Court, across which a processional way flanked by columns led to the temple proper. In the court are numerous seated figures of the goddess Sakhmet dedicated by Amenophis III, on some of which his name has been replaced by that of Sheshonq I. To the left, lying on the ground, are two gigantic figures of Amenophis III (usurped by Ramesses ll) which formerly stood before the entrance to the temple. Beyond this is a Second Court, with colonnades along the sides, across which the processional way continued. Fragments of the Hathor capitals of the pillars and of statues of Sakhmet lie around. To the right of the entrance is a large statue of Sakhmet, to the left a black granite statue of Amenophis III. On the far side of the court are a hall with papyrus cluster columns, the Sanctuary and other rooms, all in a ruinous state.
Temple of Ramesses Ill
Beyond the Temple of Mut lies the horseshoe shaped Sacred Lake, at the west end of which are the remains of a small Temple of Ramesses Ill.The entrance to the temple, at the north end, was formed by a Pylon (ruined) with two figures of the King. On the west outer wall are interesting reliefs celebrating the King's wars: 1. a battle in Syria; 2. Syrian prisoners brought before the King, heaps of severed hands being counted; 3. a battle with the Libyans; 4. the King's triumphal return, with a train of Libyan prisoners; 5. inspection of prisoners by the King; 6. a train of prisoners; 7. presentation of the bootyto Amun and his fellow deities. On the south wall the King is depicted before Sakhmet, who leads Amun by the hand.
Temple of Amenophis III
To the east of the Chapel of Osiris-Ptah is a badly ruined Temple of Amenophis III dedicated to Amun-Re. Oriented from west to east, it consists of a colonnaded court, a hypostyle hall, two vestibules, the sanctuary and several subsidiary chambers.
Still farther north of the temple precinct, among the houses of Karnak village, can be found a small temple with palm columns built by Shepenwepet, daughter of the Ethiopian ruler Piankhi.
Northern Temple Precinct
From the Temple of Ptah a gateway in the north enclosure wall of the Temple of Amun gives access to the Northern Temple precinct, also surrounded by a brickwall.
Temple of Month
Within this enclosure is the Temple of Month, the war god and old local god of Thebes. It was built by Amenophis III (18th Dynasty), but was several times altered and enlarged down to the period of the Ptolemies. The temple is so badly ruined that it is difficult even to make out the ground plan, but the older fragments of sculpture and architectural elements display a high standard of artistic skill. Outside the north entrance stood two obelisks of red granite, of which the bases and some fragments still remain.
Northern Temple Precinct North Gateway
The north gateway of the temple precinct, of sandstone, was built by Ptolemy Euergetes. In the enclosure wall to the south of the temple is a gateway with the name of Nectanebo II and the remains of a list of the peoples whom he subdued.
Temple of Modamut
From Karnak an excursion can be made to the Temple of Modamut, only 5miles/8km away.
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