Tall, looming walls full of hieroglyphics etched on all possible surfaces, and ceilings retaining some of its ancient colours create an atmosphere that is mystical and almost spell-binding – a fine example of something that is truly Ancient Egypt and one that can only be found in the Temple of Edfu
This temple also known as the Temple of Horus is an underrated site that sits between Aswan and Luxor down the famous river Nile. It is the second largest temple in the country and is considered to be the most impressive sacred building in Egypt and one that is of great antiquity.
Because of its location almost at the banks of the river and in between two cities, this place is usually accessed via Nile Cruise tours. You can also read about cruising in the river Nile and which tour best suits your travel plan by reading about it at the end of this article. That said, this place is full of myths and history and is a must on your travel plans to Egypt and this Edfu Temple guide will tell you exactly why.
For fans of archaeology, egyptology, myths, and everything the ancient world has to offer, this is definitely one of the must-see places in Egypt. Check the end of this post to see the best ways to get to Edfu Temple in either a very movie-like fashion or a money-saving budgeted one. There are plenty of options to make sure you don’t miss this mystical place in your days in Egypt.
Horus: The Falcon-Headed Mythical God
If you are a fan of the ancient Egyptian deities and grew up burying yourself in their stories, then this temple should be a must-visit on your list because it belongs to one of Egypt’s prominent mythical gods – Horus. The temple, just a 5-minute ride away from the bank of the river Nile, is dedicated to the falcon-headed “God of Air” with its gateway adorned with reliefs of Horus shown to watch over the pharaohs as he punishes his enemies.
Two granite statues of falcons depicted as Horus himself stand tall at the pylons’ entrance leading to the temple’s large courtyards. Since the temple is dedicated to Horus, you’ll find tons of hieroglyphics and stories related to him and even the famous age-old story of Horus vs Seth. The ultimate fight between good vs evil.
The Sacred Barque of Horus
One of the main reasons travellers and tourists flock to the Temple of Horus is to lay their eyes on the ancient Egyptian boat called The Sacred Barque also known as the “Holy Boat”. Sacred barques were miniature boat-like shrines treated as temporary resting places for the gods while in hieroglyphics they are shown to be huge sailing boats where the said gods would travel. In the real world of the pharaohs, the barque would be taken from one temple to another or just outside the temples (with the gods believed to be in them) to bestow blessings on the people.
Holy boats or barques can also be seen in many hieroglyphics throughout structures in all of Egypt. Many temples and ancient walls have the symbol of these sacred barques etched into their stories and Edfu Temple is the only place where you can see the holy boat/sacred barque in its true form.
In the inner chambers of the temple sits the Sacred Barque of Horus in its old colours with a carved falcon head on its ends. The boat was used by pharaohs in ancient days to celebrate festivals, most notably the Sun Boat Festival where the Barque of Horus would be taken out of its chambers and brought out to the temple’s roofs so that Horus (believed to be resting inside) could bless his people.
The carriage was viewed as holy and would only be allowed for the public to see during such special occasions. A fake replica of the boat painted in gold can be found in Luxor Temple where you can stand and photograph yourself beside it.
The Temple of Edfu Inscriptions
The Barque isn’t the only thing that draws attention to the Horus Temple. The temple itself is said to be the very core of hieroglyphics and is the treasure trove of Egypt’s ancient language as its walls are covered in ancient Egyptian writings. These writings are said to document everything from the creation of the temple, of wars past, language and linguistic guides of the hieroglyphics itself, the myths of the gods to everything that could help Egyptologists understand the era of Pharaohs and decipher their language and meanings.
And the most notable feature of the Efdu Temple is the inner walls of the peristyle hall. These massive walls are covered in hieroglyphics from the top to the very bottom without an inch of space in between. Standing in front of it makes it impossible to believe that mere humans could have carved so many, and so very complicated, symbols in such laser-sharp precisions on every possible gap. And none of these hieroglyphics seems to have faded with time.
One of the stories written with these ancient letters details the Sun Boat Festival – the celebrated occasion when Hathor (Horus’s wife) makes her way from her temple in Denadara to Edfu to meet with her husband.
As mentioned before, carving these letters into these towering and seemingly never-ending walls is considered to be a massive feat that leaves travellers and even archaeologists baffled to this day.
A Room with Ancient Recipes
One of the inner chambers in the temple’s Holy of Holies (where priests and pharaohs worshipped the gods to which the temple is dedicated) is another remarkable room. This room was said to be an offering room where perfumes and incense were stored or made. What makes this room fascinating is the importance of the hieroglyphics etched on the room’s walls. It depicts the offerings of perfumes and even has multiple recipes of these ancient perfumes instructed on the walls.
How to get to Edfu Temple
Edfu Temple is situated just 5 minutes away from the banks of the River Nile between Aswan and Edfu. The temple (along with the Kom Ombo temple with crocodile mummies) is usually included in the itineraries of Nile Cruise excursions. This is a recommended and safe way to travel as you’ll be able to visit the temple while also being able to travel to Abu Simbel, Philae Temple as well as all the must-see places in Luxor.
Nile Cruise Tours & Excursions
If you are in Cairo and plan to make your way down to Aswan and Luxor, then these Nile Cruises are your best options:
This 4-day 3-night private Nile cruise sails from Aswan to Luxor and takes you through all the major cities including (Philae Temple in Aswan, Kom Ombo, Edfu, and all the highlights of Luxor. The tickets to all sites are included as well as lunch, breakfast, dinner, and evening tea. As a private tour, you’ll be able to skip long lines and be able to avoid crowds by getting to places before the groups swarm in.
If you wish to sail from Luxor then this Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan with a 5-day, 4 nights sailing time is a great option. You can opt for a private tour, which again includes the same itinerary and perks of avoiding massive crowds.
For budget Nile cruises, tour packages can also be found as group tours to the same places and cities with the same itinerary including the 3 meals and tickets as well as the same sailing time of 4-days and 3 nights from Aswan or a group tour of 5-days 4-nights from Luxor including a hot air balloon ride.
Individual Budget Tours to Edfu Temple Only
If you don’t have the time for Nile cruises or you would like to control your budget and time, then you can book separate tours only to Edfu. Here are some great alternative ways for you to get to the Temple of Horus at Edfu if you plan to stay in Luxor or Aswan:
Private tour to Edfu and Kom Ombo which includes lunch and an Egyptologist
Private day trip to Kom Ombo and Edfu with pick up from Luxor and drop off in either Aswan or Luxor.
Disclaimer: These images are copyrighted to At World’s Origins and are not free to share for any purpose. If these images are shared without permission from the owner, legal actions will be taken.