The Luxor Temple: Birthplace of Pharaohs And a Thousand Statues of Sphinxes

Sitting on the bank of the azure River Nile, these humungous Ramses II statues stand tall and proud in a breathtaking scene accompanied by a high obelisk with hieroglyphics etched into it from top to bottom. This is the epitome of Ancient Egypt when powerful pharaohs ruled the land and this particular place is one of the centres of that power – The Temple of Luxor.

Egypt is famous for its pictures of Luxor Temple and its several statues of Ramses II which was built by the pharaoh Amenhotep III. The visual of the temple from the roadside betrays its true enormousness with only the top half visible from the street. But the temple actually sits on much lower ground and one only realizes its magnificent size when they climb down and stand at the foot of the pylons as well as the Pharoah’s feet.

Sunlight streams down on the Court of Ramses II

But this place is more than just insta-worthy pics of its humungous statues. Its hieroglyphics highlight a history that saw multiple rulers throughout the years, a holy worshipping room where only the King and the Priest were allowed and a newly found road of sphinxes lined up one after another for kilometres. It’s also one of the best preserved ancient Egypt places that stands to explore to this day and visiting this temple is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Luxor.

If you are pressed for time or want to see all the amazing sites in this ancient city without hassle, you can request a top-rated tour guide in Luxor by sending us a request and travel needs using our contact page. Meanwhile, here are the main things to spot and experience in Luxor Temple, one of the most beautiful places in Egypt and one of the most famous places in Luxor.

Who Built Luxor Temple?

It’s believed that the temple’s massive construction was initially helmed by Amenhotep III in 1400 BCE followed by his grandson, Tutankhamun and then by Ramses II. Other pharaohs, such as Merenptah, also have their marks on the temple. The temple is situated on the East Bank of the Nile River and is dedicated to the Egyptian deities Mut, Khonsu and Amun.

Hieroglyphics of the egyptian dieties worshipped at Luxor Temple
Hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptian deities worshipped at Luxor Temple

What sets this temple apart from the other temples in Luxor is that, despite having chapels for the deities, this particular place wasn’t intended for worship. In fact, it was built for kingship, meaning many of the crowning events of the pharaohs took place here and holy festivals were celebrated.

King Tut’s statue

Supposed statue of King Tutankhamun and his wife

Amenhotep III was King Tutankhamun’s (the famous boy king), grandfather so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to find the young pharaoh’s statues in the temple, which the young king also had a part in building. But this significantly noticeable detail is overlooked by many visitors because they don’t recognise the statue.

The statue of King Tut is shown to be sitting with his wife, Ankhesenamun, with both their faces resembling their young teen years. While it might be a minor detail considering Luxor Temple’s massive Colonade hall with 61-meter pillars, it’s still fascinating to look at the face of the boy king depicted when he was still alive and well.

Ramses II statue

The six statues of Ramses II at Luxor Temple entrance Photo Credit: Ameena Navab

There is no doubt that everyone flocks here to see the six main gigantic statues of Ramses II lined in the front and in the halls. It graces every picture of Egypt monuments and temples and is a symbol of Ancient Egypt just like the four sitting statues of Abu Simbel.

Greeting you at the entrance, these structures of Ramses are found in all Pharoah-ic positions which consist of sitting, standing and even in the Osirian position. These postures are supposed to show Ramses II’s military strength, power and kingship. It was built to depict the king as a powerful leader that could control armies and strengthen the kingdom.

Humungous statues at The Court of Ramses Photo Credit: Ameena Navab

Towards the main hall in the temple, two more statues of Ramses can be seen sitting down in the usual pose with hands on their knees. A picturesque scene with the pillars lined behind him and travellers the size of ants by his feet. It feels almost ridiculous to believe that people built these enormous structures without any use of technology.

The Triple Sanctuary

In the inner sanctuary room of Luxor Temple
In the inner sanctuary room

The last chamber towards the end of Luxor Temple is one of the ancient of ancient Egypt places you can find in this country of immortal kings and ancient spells. It was the prayer room for the Egyptian deities only accessible to the king and his priest. No one else was allowed to enter these walls. Today, you can stand in the same place where once only the pharaohs and their priest could enter and all else was forbidden. Here, the priest would pray and leave offerings to their gods.

Avenue of Sphinxes

The Avenue of Sphinxes starting from the Luxor Temple
The Avenue of Sphinxes starting from the Luxor Temple…..

Newly opened in November 2021, the Avenue of Sphinxes is a 3km road lined up with more than a thousand statues of sphinxes until Karnak temple. The Avenue of Sphinxes went through an extensive restoration process which took seven decades to complete and when you look at it, one can understand why it took so long. Walking this extraordinary 3km road until Karnak is one of the unique things to do in Luxor as the entire road looks like it came right out of The Mummy movie.

This Avenue of Sphinxes is best seen after sundown when the Luxor Temple at night lights up all the sphinxes and the entire road in a magical golden glow. But bear in mind that Karnak temple closes at 6pm, so if you plan to walk the long road to the temple, it’s best to start early.

This newly opened Ancient Egyptian path was once used for the celebration of the Opet festival. During this festival, the statues of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu were moved from Karnak, along the Avenue of Sphinxes, and placed in Luxor Temple during the said festival.

The avenue of Sphinxes leading to Karnak
….and leading to Karnak Photo Credit: Ameena Navab

Today as you walk down the path, a golden-coloured Holy Boat, which is a replica of the boat used during the festival in Ancient Egyptian times, is placed on the path. And you can continue the long walk until you reach Karnak.

Replica of the Holy Boat once used during the ancient festival
Replica of the Holy Boat once used during the ancient festival

To see the real Holy Boat, head to Edfu Temple and reel in the site of the real falcon-headed, bronze-coloured boat that the pharaoh’s people once carried during the festivals.

Disclaimer: These images are copyrighted and are not free to share for any purpose. If these images are shared without permission from the owner, legal actions will be taken.


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