Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt

Karnak temple obelisks luxor egypt
The two remaining obelisks at Karnak that weren't carried off by Rome, England, France and other visitors to Egypt over the years. Actually, one of the Karnak obelisks was given to France in the 19th Century in return for their help in excavating the site. It now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. In return, Egypt received a clock that now stands on the roof of the Citadel of Cairo. It has never worked.

One of the best things about the Egyptian ruins that line the Nile is that most of them were only recently excavated. The famous Nile floods had buried them in mud, and the famous Sahara winds had cooperated to bury them in sand. Consequently, the lower parts that were covered were very well preserved–except for the coloring of the carvings, which was pretty much washed away in most places.

The Temple of Karnak, near Luxor, is the second largest religious complex in the world, after Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It was built over a period of approxiately 1300 years, and so shows a huge diversity of statues, columns and carvings. Most of the great Egyptian pharoahs, including Ramses II and Hathepsut had a hand in the building of Karnak.

Karnak temple columns luxor egypt
Some of the well preserved columns of Karnak. On the roof trusses you can see some of the color that wasn't washed away by the Nile.

The other thing that impresses about Karnak is its vertical size. The columns which make up the main temple are 23 meters (75 feet) tall, beating any other columns we've seen by at least six meters.

Also, unlike some other temples, Karnak's main hall was roofed. Unfortunately, the earthquakes of the last three and a half millenia have brought down the roof. But, as you can see, the trusses and small bits of ceiling that remain show off some of the colorful painting that once covered all the columns and walls.

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