Photo: Cecilia Uddén
This photo was taken on winter solstice (22nd Dec.) this year, and I can’t imagine a more appropriate place to spend that day. The big temple of Amun-Ra in the Karnak complex is aligned with the sunrise at winter solstice. When the sun rises on that day, it appears between the left and right walls on either side of the entrance. Its rays are then funneled through multiple temple areas, which narrow until reaching the sanctuary of Amun. I didn’t visit Luxor at this time of the year, so I had to do with the sound-and-light show where they try to recreate the phenomenon.
The Karnak temple is situated in Luxor (old Thebes) in “upper” (southern) Egypt. The Karnak temple, as it’s commonly called, is actually a city of temples. There are 4 main precincts, dedicated to the gods Amon-Re, Mut, Monsu and the deliberately dismantled temple of Amenhotep IV (Achnaton). There are also a few smaller temples and a vast sacred lake. It was built over a time period of 2000 years. Approximately 30 pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen anywhere else. It literally dwarfs everything else. Just the area of the enclosure of Amun is so large, it could hold ten European cathedrals.
Today most of the buildings are decayed and crumbled. I can’t even imagine how overwhelming the temple complex must have been for the average visitor in its days of glory! Even today it’s awesome!
By chance I discovered that James Bond had been there in The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977. I hope he’s not the one responsible for the destruction…