The Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor is an extremely impressive site in Egypt and is probably the second most visited site in Egypt behind the Great Pyramids of Giza. Part of what makes it so fascinating is the sheer size of the complex as well as the length of time during which additions and modifications were being made to the complex. In addition to visiting it during the day, we also went to a sound and light show at night, which provided another unique view of the temples. In some ways, seeing it at night gave us some insight as to what it might have been like to have seen when the temples were still in use.
The temple complex is made up of four main parts, although only three of them remain as the fourth was purposely destroyed. Over 30 pharaohs contributed to building elements of the Karnak Temples, but of primary note were Seti I, Ramesses II, and Hatshepsut. In fact, Hatshepsut, a powerful female pharaoh, was responsible for creating the obelisks that are on the site, which were built from single blocks of granite from quarries in Aswan. There are hieroglyphs demonstrating their devotion to the gods, especially Amun Ra, the king of the Egyptian gods.
There are so many features, columns, statues, hieroglyphs, and even a pool for purifying the bodies of the pharaohs and priests, that visiting the Karnak Temple Complex is overwhelming. You could visit the temples hundreds of times and still find something new on every visit. We visited with a professional Egyptologist as a guide and he provided a wealth of information to us as we walked through the complex. He was able to point out which features were built by which pharaohs and helped us understand why it was so important to them to create such impressive structures.
Even though the temples have been flooded by the Nile River, been effected by earthquakes, and defaced by the early Christians as well as other Egyptians, the remaining details are simply staggering. To walk through a site that was so important to connect the pharaohs with their gods is truly humbling. It is hard to digest how difficult it must have been thousands of years ago to create these temples and statues on the scale that they did. With the limited tools available at the time, the talent and ingenuity of the people that built these structures, carved the statues, and painted the hieroglyphs is nothing short of amazing.
If you are planning a visit to Egypt, taking time to go to Luxor and visit the Karnak Temple Complex is something that cannot be missed. In many ways, we were even more impressed with the temples in Luxor than of the pyramids that are so often the focus of people when they visit Egypt. It is experience that you will never forget.