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1. The Grand Entry

2. A new type of temple

3. Great reliefs

4. Dark chambers

5. Osireion

6. Where Egypt began?


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The entrance to the underworld

Abydos, Egypt

Abydos, Egypt

Abydos, Egypt

For the ancient Egyptians, there was no better place to be buried than at Abydos. Even the living were attracted to make a pilgrimage here, thinking of it as the centre of their religious universe. But why was Abydos so important, out here, far away from any capital Ancient Egypt ever had?
Abydos was the cult centre of Osiris, and with this the Egyptians believed that the entrance to the underworld was located somewhere in the hills of the desert west of Abydos. And since Osiris remained so central throughout Ancient Egyptian religion, Abydos remained important for millennias. The history and popularity of Abydos lasted for about 4500 years, well into Christian times.
Myths told that Abydos was the place where Osiris' head was buried, after he had been murdered by his brother, Seth. It is assumed that the tomb of 1st Dynasty king, Djer, became associated with the tomb of the god, Osiris.
Today, the main reason for the attention that Abydos gets, is because of the temple erected by the command of Pharaoh Seti 1 in the late 14th century BCE. Seti's temple revered Osiris, but inside the temple there were 5 other sanctuaries devoted to other important gods. Among these, Isis and Horus were closely linked to Osiris and his myths, Isis being his wife and Horus his son. The other three gods were Amon, Re-Harakhte and Ptah. A seventh, and the last, sanctuary is devoted to Seti himself, indicating the real purpose of the temple: honoring the deified, deceased Pharaoh.

Eat and Sleep
There is a basic camping near the temple grounds. In the town of Al-Balyana, 8 km east, there are four basic hotels. For travellers with money to spend, Nag Hammadi, 45 km southeast, is the only real option.
The restaurant near Abydos is basic and slightly overpriced. In Al-Balyana there are a handful of basic places for eating, mainly catering for train passengers stopping there only shortly.

It is fairly easy to get to and from Al-Balyana, which lies 8 km east of Abydos. It is a stop for the Cairo-Luxor trains. There are also buses and service taxis going to Assyut in the north and Qena in the east.
Getting out to the temple grounds is fairly easy. There are service taxis and microbuses from Abydos.
You can even get to Abydos directly from Qena by bus, but this could involve some waiting.

Going Next
95 km east: Dendera
155 km north: Assyut
160 km southeast: Luxor

By Tore Kjeilen