Ancient Egyptian temples: discover ancient Egypt history at the Ramesseum

A major site of ancient Egypt


Edfo, Luxor Governorate, Égypte

GPS: 25.729205351131, 32.611787411043

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Many Egyptologists believe that the Ramesseum may be the most impressive of the ancient Egyptian temples. It is part of a gigantic funerary complex attached to the Theban Necropolis, the ancient capital of the New Kingdom. Discover ancient Egypt that is dedicated to the deity Amun in the time of the Pharaohs, the temple coincides with the golden age of Ancient Egypt. Its ruins correspond to the funerary temple of Ramesses II, the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty, whose long reign lasted more than 60 years (1279 to 1213 BC).

The profusion of exceptional remains of the Theban Necropolis is scattered on both sides of the banks of the Nile, around the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes), at the edge of the cultivated lands and the desert. It is in particular on the West Bank, not far from the Ramesseum, that one can discover ancient Egypt through several important sites, including ancient Egyptian temples: the Colossi of Memnon (two gigantic stone sculptures marking the entrance to the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III), the site of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (ancient Egyptian necropolis), the Temple of Ramesses III (major funerary temple at Medinet Habu), the site of Deir el-Bahari (vast mortuary complex), the Temple of Hatshepsut (Queen Pharaoh), the Mortuary Temple of Seti I (memorial temple of the father of father of Ramesses II), the Valley of the Queens (including the tomb of Queen Nefertari, favourite of Ramesses II), the Valley of the Kings (hypogeum and tombs of the pharaohs, including that of Tutankhamun), the Valley of the Nobles (tombs of the king’s relatives), and the Deir el-Medina complex (village of the workmen in charge of the construction of the funerary tombs and temples).

On the East Bank of the Nile, discover ancient Egypt through other ancient Egyptian temples including the Luxor Temple (one of the best preserved in the region) and the Karnak Temple Complex (the largest religious site of all antiquity) complete this incredible density of archaeological remains. These two buildings dedicated to the god Amun were once linked by an impressive Avenue of Sphinxes (dromos) nearly three kilometres long. It served as the stage for a great religious procession on sacred boats during the Opet festival. It is currently being restored as part of the Master plan for Luxor City 2030. The Ramesseum is a great reason to travel ancient Egypt.

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  • A site that symbolises the power and grandeur of the Pharaohs in Upper Egypt (this civilisation flourished for almost 3,000 years)
  • The remains of the enormous Statue of Ramesses II, estimated to weigh 1,000 tons
  • The hypostyle (columned) hall of the Ramesseum; the frescoes showing scenes of the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittite forces (ancient Middle Eastern people)
  • The remarkable series of hieroglyphs; the gates, obelisks and grandiose statues; the multiple sphinx statues estimated at 1,300 units
  • On the East Bank of the Nile, the sumptuous remains of the Luxor Temple (monumental entrance, large pylon, vast courtyards lined with porticoes and colonnades, scenes in relief decorating the walls and interior rooms…) and the Karnak Temple Complex (one of the world’s largest archaeological sites)
  • The richness of the Luxor Museum’s collections
  • The multitude of ancient treasures in a small area (temples, palaces, graves, mausoleums, burial sites, tombs, sarcophagi, statues…); the presence of ancient churches, mosques and houses (some of which date back to Roman times)
  • The gigantic proportion of the buildings in the Theban Necropolis, rightly considered the largest open-air museum in the world (most of the temples were painted at the time)
  • Nile cruises and hot air ballooning; felucca (traditional sailing boat) excursions
  • Pharaoh Ramesses II reigned for 66 years in the 13th century BC (New Kingdom period). Before his death at the age of 92, he built more temples and monuments than any other pharaoh (he is notably the author of the additions and enlargements of the Luxor Temple built by Amenhotep III). This ruler of the 19th Egyptian dynasty took part in many military campaigns against the Hittites for the control of Nubia (part of the Nile region extending to the Egyptian-Sudanese border). One of these, the Battle of Kadesh, is said to have been the scene of the largest chariot battle in history.
  • Already at the origin of the deciphering of hieroglyphs, the French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion studied for the first time in 1829 the inscriptions of the Ramesseum and attributed them to the great builder, the Pharaoh Ramesses II.
  • To erect these gigantic temples and monuments, the Egyptians reproduced the same process that was used to build the pyramids of Giza nearly 1,000 years earlier. According to Florence Maruéjol, the stones cut in a quarry were transported to the construction site and hoisted up by means of scaffolding made of mud bricks. A system of ramps allowed the stones to be raised as the building was being erected. Remains of this scaffolding remain in the Karnak Temple Complex.
  • In November 2018, an Egyptian and French archaeological mission uncovered new finds in a necropolis in Luxor, on the West Bank of the Nile. The finds include a tomb, sarcophagi, statues, mummies and several funerary objects dating back to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (around 2,000 BC).
  • Medical papyri were recently discovered in the Ramesseum (which was nicknamed the “castle of millions of years” by the French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion). These scrolls are written in hieroglyphics and date from the early 18th century BC. One of them mentions the use of hemp to treat eye problems. This is the oldest reference to medical cannabis in the world.
  • Many of the Ramesseum’s collections, including the Head and upper body of the huge statue of Ramesses II, are on display at the British Museum in London.
  • The two obelisks marking the majestic entrance to Luxor Temple were given as a gift to France by the ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali of Egypt, in the early 1830s. Shipping the first stone behemoth (more than 20 metres high and weighing 230 tonnes) to Paris was a considerable task. A ship was specially designed for the occasion (the Luxor) and was forced to wait for the annual flooding of the Nile to set sail for France via Alexandria. The obelisk arrived in Paris in 1833 and was installed three years later in the centre of the Place de la Concorde (the felling, transport and transfer of the obelisk cost the lives of a dozen people). It is still the oldest monument in the French capital. The second obelisk in Luxor Temple should have had the same fate, but it was finally returned and left in place.
  • The Egyptian Museum in Turin (Italy) has the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities abroad after the Louvre Museum in Paris (France) in terms of the number of exhibits.
  • The city of Luxor is located 650 kilometres south of Cairo and 250 kilometres from Aswan. The East Bank of the Nile is the city of the living, where the temples of Luxor and Karnak are located. The Ramesseum is based on the West Bank of the river, a place dedicated to the realm of the dead that served as the necropolis of the New Kingdom pharaohs for nearly five centuries.
  • The majority of temples and archaeological sites open their doors at 6 am. Some monuments, such as Luxor Temple, are accessible in the evening. This time of day offers a very different visiting experience (the lighting systems highlight particularly well the reliefs and decorative elements that are not easily visible during the day). Several days are necessary to take the time to explore all the Theban treasures at your leisure.
  • After discovering the Ramesseum, visit the Luxor Museum, dedicated to the glory of the ancient city of Thebes, which brings together in one place the mummies of the kings of the 18th and 19th dynasties (including that of Ramesses I).
  • Around Luxor, you can also stop at Edfu (Temple of Edfu dedicated to Horus) in the south or Dendera (Dendera Temple complex dedicated to Hathor) in the north, all of which are worthy of note.
  • Other archaeological sites along the Nile Valley of Upper Egypt, such as Abydos, are interesting to visit (it is a sanctuary dedicated to Osiris where the first kings of Egypt were buried).

Where to eat

  • Africa Restaurant
    (full of flavour)
  • The Lantern Room
    (international table)
  • Sunflower Restaurant
    (magnificent view of the Nile)

Where to go

  • Market in Shiek el Gournah
    (hectic market)
  • Animal Care in Egypt
    (animal welfare centre)
  • Dendera Temple complex
    (incredibly well-preserved)

Where to stay

  • Bob Marley Peace Hotel
    (cheap and efficient)
  • Nefertiti Hotel
    (prominent location)
  • Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa
    (splendid complex)