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1. 800 years of pyramids

2. Ancient temples

3. Ancient tombs

4. Just relaxing

5. Diving and snorkelling

6. The great river

7. Desert and oases

8. Christianity

9. Islamic sights

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Temple of Khonsu Temple of Amon Temple of Horus Temple of Mut The ancient capital of Tanis Temple of Bastet Bubastis Abydos Osireion Temple of Hathor at Dendera Dendera Luxor Temple of Hatshepsut Luxor Temple Karnak Temples Esna Edfu Kom Ombo Aswan Abu Simbel Sun Temple at Abu Simbel Hathor Temple of Queen Nefertari Temple of Isis at Philae Temple of Khnum at Aswan Qasr el-Sagha in Fayoum, temple of unknown god(dess) Temple of Sobek Medinet Madi Sahure's pyramid and temple Sun temples at Abu Ghurab The Serapeum in Alexandria Karanis Tell el-Amarna Osireion The royal temples of Luxor Temple of Khnum at Esna Temple of Horus Temple of Haroeris and Sobek Temples of Mut Temples of Kalabsha Temple of Amada Temple of Dakka Temple at Wadi es-Seboua Oracle of Amon in Siwa Oasis Temple of Amon in Siwa Oasis Deir el-Hagar in Dakhla Oasis, temple dedicated to the Theban Triad Temple of Hibis in Kharga Oasis Temple of Nadura in Kharga Oasis Temple of Dush, dedicated to Isis and Serapis INTRODUCTION
Ancient temples

At some time in Ancient Egypt's history temples seem to have replaced pyramids as the Egyptian pharaoh's preferred way of dealing with the gods. The oldest surviving temple of some size dates back to the 12th Dynasty, which also is the last dynasty to have built pyramids of some size.
In the eyes of the Egyptians, the temple was the house of the god or goddess. Hence the temple was not the place for a layman's worship, only the most prominent people were allowed into the first courtyards and hypostyle halls. The inner section, where the statue of the god lived, only the highest priests could enter.
So didn't the Egyptians build temples before the 12th dynasty? Well, they did, but not very large and impressive. The best architects and craftsmen were probably busy building pyramids. So, later pharaohs saw that they could do better, and old temples were torn down and replaced by the great structures that we can see now.
Some old temples are still standing. Most of them are found next to the pyramids, with which they formed a unity. But few offer much to see, but even if most of the walls and columns are gone, the ground tells you a bit about what it once looked like.
The grandest and most impressive temple is clearly the Temple of Amon at Karnak, which is the centre of a handful more temples. The best preserved temple is the Temple of Horus at Edfu.
OK, so almost all of the Egyptians were never allowed to enter the temple precincts. So what did they do for their religion? During annual festivals things did happen, and the statue of the god or goddess was taken out of the shrine, first carried out of the temple, and then transported on barks, often to another temple. Apart from that, a layman's religion dealt with deities of a much lesser setting than the great ones, deities fit to serve the needs of simple people. Small shrines were found all over every little village, people carried small amulets with them. To a large extent we may suggest that this form of religion was another religion than the one we can still see the monuments of. But very little has survived from the commoner's religion.
Today, the temples are open for anyone with a valid ticket. A lot has survived the thousands of years, but one item is gone in most cases: The roof. What appears today as open air shrines, was once clad in darkness, lit by a torches. The shrine, the true domain of the god or goddess was perhaps only lit by a single torch. All recreating that a temple was not only a processional way into the holy, also a climb into the underworld.
The main station for exploring Egypt's fantastic temples is Luxor. Within a few kilometres a great selection of temples can be found, while the temples north and south of Luxor is more awkward to reach. Due to security issues, anyone travelling as far north as Abydos or south as Edfu must travel in a "convoy". With a convoy a lot of time is lost, and too little time is allowed in the sites themselves.

By Tore Kjeilen