Temple of Karnak
The temple of Karnak 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 Amun, 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 - 1.5 km by 0.8 km. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is 61 acres, and would hold ten average-sized European cathedrals.
The Home of Amun
Karnak Temple is the home of the god Amun 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. One deity subduing and replacing another, the victorious god and its people growing in strength. This is how Amun, 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 has no legends or miracles to impress his worshippers and seems 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.'
The Sacred Lake
All ancient Egyptian temples had a sacred lake, Karnak's is the largest. It was used during festivals when images of the gods would sail across it on golden barges.
The water supply to the Sacred Lake, which symbolized the primeval ocean Nun, comes directly from the Nile. Next to the lake is a small café where you can pit stop in the shade and fantasize about the temple in its golden ages.
The Hypostyle Hall
The Hypostyle hall in the Karnak Temple, at 54,000 square feet, and with its 134 columns (the tallest of the 134 columns reaches a height of 23 meters) is still the largest room of any religious building in the world. In this enormous forest of columns you get a genuine feeling of the wealth of the New Kingdom and of the importance of Amun as the State-God.