Egypt’s ancient history is brought to life through its many temples and funerary customs. Many of these temples dot the area around Luxor, ancient Thebes. This great capital of Egypt was defined by the river Nile. Since the east bank of the Nile was associated with the rising sun, hence life, most of the temples built to honor ancient Egyptian gods were built on the Nile’s east bank; to the west of the Nile, where the sun set and darkness reigned, hence death, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the queens house the tombs of pharaohs and their families from dynasties past, the most notable of these being King Tutankhamen and Queen Nefarti.
Karnak, the most spectacular temple and a sheer pinnacle of religious architecture was the center of ancient Egypt’s religious practices. The mother of Egyptian temples and the greatest ever built; it was a place of pilgrimage and worship for nearly 4000 years. Enlarged and built upon by one pharaoh after another for over 1300 years, the complex covers nearly 200 acres. The temple of Amun alone is over 61 acres – the size of ten average European cathedrals.
Karnak was the home of the god of gods, Amun Ra, who was insignificant until the 12th dynasty when Thebes became the great capital of ancient Egypt. In ancient times, wars were not fought between countries; rather contests between the gods determined the fates of the lands where one god subdued another and one deity replaced another, the victorious god and its people growing in power and strength. This is how Amun, with the help of other New Kingdom gods became the supreme god and Karnak, built in his honor, and became the largest temple built.
Karnak’s vast awe-inspiring complex includes 3 main temples and other smaller chapels and pylons. At its center sits the temple of Amun. Known as Ipset-Isut (the most select of places) by ancient Egyptians, Karnak was dedicated to the triad deity of Amun, his wife Mut and his son Khonso.
Probably the most impressive temple complex in the world, the Temple of Karnak -its gargantuan size, its architecture, and its thought-provoking construction – epitomizes the greatness of ancient Egypt. An icon of religious worship and ancient Egyptian mythology, it reveals the mysteries of a civilization that still penetrate our modern world