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Karnak Temples

The Karnak Temple was known as Ipet-isut (Most select of places) by the ancient Egyptians. It is a city of temples built over 2000 years and dedicated to the Theben triad of Amon, Mut and Khonsu. This derelict place is still capable of overshadowing many of the wonders of the modern world and in its day must have been awe inspiring.

For the largely uneducated ancient Egyptian population this could only have been the place of the gods. It is the mother of all religious buildings, the largest ever made and a place of pilgrimage for nearly 4,000 years; although today’s pilgrims are mainly tourists. It covers about 200 acres 1.5km by 0.8km.

The area of the sacred enclosure of Amon alone is 61 acres and would hold ten average European cathedrals. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big; St. Peter, Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals could be lost within its walls. The Hypostyle hall at 54,000 square feet with its 134 columns is still the largest room of any religious building in the world. In addition to the main sanctuary there are several smaller temples and a vast sacred lake.

The Karnak Temple was the home of the god Amon who was an insignificant local god until the 12th dynasty when Thebes became the capital of Egypt. He was represented in his original state as a goose and later as a ram, at the height of his power he was shown as a human with a head dress of feathers - all that remained of the goose.   

In ancient times wars were not fought between countries but were considered as contests between gods. When one deity subdued and replaced another, the victorious god and its people grew in strength. This is how Amon, with the help of Thutmose III and various other New Kingdom kings, rose to become the first supreme god of the known world and was hailed as God of gods. Little is known of him; unlike most other gods he had no legends or miracles to impress his worshippers so it seemed to be closer to an abstract idea of a godhead. His followers came from all the strata of society and he was known to some as Vizier of the poor.

All Egyptian temples had a sacred lake, Karnak is the largest. It was used during festivals when images of the gods would sail across it on golden barges. Karnak was also the home of a flock of geese dedicated to Amon.

The Eastern Gateway which once lead to a huge temple built by Akhenaton (the heretic king). In an attempt to obliterate his memory, Akhenaton enemies destroyed this shrine after his death.

Other Points of Interest in Luxor

 Luxor Temple

 Valley of the Kings

 Valley of the Queens

 Hatshepsut Temple At El Deir El-Bahri

 Colossi of Memnon


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