The Temple of Luxor in Egypt – legacy of a civilization long gone
One of the greatest testaments to human architecture is the Temple of Luxor in Egypt. This temple is actually a complex located on the east side of the river Nile in the city of Luxor and was constructed approximately in 1400 BC. Although it was built by 3 great pharaohs, Amenophis III, Tutankhamen, and Ramses II, it never reached its true potential.
Legacy of three pharaohs
Ramses II built the pylon and the first courtyard of the Luxor temple which had two obelisks at the entrance, marking the path inside. They were different heights but they looked as if they were the same. Besides the obelisks, there were two granite colossi of Ramses II at the entrance and there were originally four statues of Ramses II placed in front of the pylon. The courtyard was added during the 19th dynasty, and it was surrounded by a double row of columns.
The colonnade was started by Amenophis III but his son didn’t want to finish this project and moved his capital to a new city dedicated to Aton, Tell el Amarna.
This unfinished project was later completed by Tutankhamen who returned to Luxor. The area was originally planned to be another courtyard and Tutankhamen built columns with capitals shaped like open lotus flowers to complete the area. It is also said that he had the walls decorated with reliefs representing the festival Opet.
Between the Karnak Temple and the Luxor temple, there were six bark shrines serving as way stations for the barks of the gods during festivals. The avenue had a boulevard of sphinxes that connected the temples, but during the 30th dynasty, they were replaced with human-headed sphinxes. Some stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which was very important for the temple.
There is an active mosque there, located within the temple, called the Mosque of Abu Haggag. That part of the temple was converted into a church by the Romans in 395 AD and later to a mosque in 640, meaning that this building has been a center of worship for a very long time.
Temple under the Roman Empire
During the Roman era, the temple was used as a legionary fortress and the home of the Roman government in the area. At this time, the chapel inside the temple that was originally dedicated to goddess Mut was transformed into a Tetrarchy cult chapel and later into a church.
The Hypostyle Hall was at the south side of the courtyard and had four rows of eight columns. The hall led into a few smaller rooms and the central one was used as a Christian church. This area was the most sacred one, with the gold-pleated statue of the god Amon as well as a birth room with some pictures referring to the birth of Amenophis III.
The Luxor temple is the oldest building in the world that has been partially active for purposes other than archeology or tourism.