Sitting out in the sands of the West Bank of Luxor lies Medinat Habu, one of the most well preserved temples in Luxor and possibly all of Egypt. Built by Ramses III as a mortuary temple, it immediately shows its glory and uniqueness from the very first moment you lay eyes on it and reminds you of all the beauty and splendor that Ancient Egypt once was.
The main entrance, one of my favorite parts, is not in traditional Egyptian style but instead a copy of a Hittite-Syrian fort. It contains secret windows at the top where the Egyptian soldiers would position and the rest was made to look abandoned so enemies would enter and then be attacked by surprise. Ramses III used this style after being assaulted himself in a Hittite fort in Syria during one of his battles.
The next section past the two large gates was the main area and the official entrance to the temple itself. Known as the “newspaper headline” of the time, the facade of the main entrance building showed the current battles and glories of the pharaoh at the time. Since the common people could not enter the temple past this point, it was a way for him to show all of his glory and battles won to his people.
On the facade the king is holding the head of his enemies and near him Ra, the sun god, is giving him permission to cut off the hands or heads of his enemies. Probably representing the Hitties and the Libyans, the king wanted to show his ultimate dominance over other empires throughout the known world.
Next to the temple were the remains of an ancient palace that might have been used by the pharaoh during construction to over see operations. As we walked through, we could still recognize the different rooms and their uses. The bathrooms were some of the most intact parts, and even the toilets were still there!
Since I had been studying hieroglyphics for some time, it was fun to try and decipher the inscriptions on the walls. Although I could not understand much, I translated many cartouches and the many titles given to the king or gods.
All of the walls were so incredibly decorated and elaborate throughout the temple. I can’t imagine what it would have looked like with all the vibrant colors and gold! Although most of the color is gone, there are still some areas where you can see stunning blues, reds, and yellows on the high ceilings which remind you that what you are seeing is only a small portion of the temple’s former glory.
I loved visiting Medinat Habu and although I have now been there twice, I am so excited to return some day! Here is a video that I made about our adventure there – hope you enjoy it!
Have you ever been to Egypt? What was your favorite place? I would love to hear your stories!