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Founded in 1400 BCE, the Luxor Temple was a site of ancient rites to the gods Amun, Chons and Mut. Egypt tours without a stop here are incomplete!
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Located in Luxor, Egypt this temple of Luxor has many fascinating aspects and features that continue to attract multitudes of people. The temple of Luxor, some 260 m (850 ft) long today, was built by Amenophis III on the foundations of a previous religious structure, dating from the time of Queen Hatshepsut.
One of the glories of the ancient Egyptian temple of Luxor is a majestic colonnade dating to the reign of Amenophis III, with 14 columns with papyrus-shaped capitals standing 18 m (60 ft) tall, and almost 10 m (33 ft) in circumference. The colonnade is enclosed on both sides by a masonry curtain wall, with reliefs depicting various phases of the Festival of Opet, completed and decorated during the reigns of Tutankhamun and Horemheb.
A magnificent courtyard follows; it is lined with a double row of columns, and bordered to the south by the hypostyle hall, which itself contains 32 gigantic columns. From here, the visitor passes on to the inner section of the attraction where there is a series of four antechambers and ancillary rooms, as well as the Sanctuary of the Sacred Barque, situated in the innermost room. The chapel was rebuilt by Alexander the Great.
The ceremonies that took place in the Luxor temple were of great importance, and their religious symbolism complex. During the Festival of Opet, the feast of the royal jubilee, the divine rebirth of the pharaoh, son of Amun, was celebrated, reaffirming in this way his power.
The ancient Egyptian temple of Luxor also served as a shrine for the worship of the divine and immortal portion of the pharaoh, the royal "ka", symbol of the legitimacy of the pharaoh's power, which was universal and not restricted to any individual pharaoh.
In terms of purity of structural design and the elegance of its columns, the temple is one of the most remarkable architectural achievements of the New Kingdom.
The courtyard of Ramses II, is surrounded by a peristyle of 74 papyrus columns arranged in a double row and adorned with 16 statues of the pharaoh, and incorporates a three-part chapel on the northern side, also dedicated to the Theban triad and dating to Hatshepsut's reign.
Also dating to the reign of Ramses II are two large obelisks that once stood before the first pylon (a word derived from the Greek meaning 'gateway') and which were given to France by the ruler of Egypt, Mohammad Ali, in 1819.
The western obelisk in the Luxor temple, more than 21 m (70 ft) tall and weighing 210 tons, was removed by the French in 1836 and erected in Paris in the Place de la Concorde. All claims to ownership over the second obelisk, which remained in its position in Egypt, were renounced by France in 1980.
On the eastern side of the Luxor Temple Ramses II courtyard a Byzantine church was built in the sixth century AD, and on top of that, during the reign of the Ayyubid sultans (thirteenth century AD), the mosque of Abu El-Haggag was built. The Abu El Haggag Mosque is still in use today as a place of prayer.
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