Diaries of Egypt: The Edfu Temple

Day 3: Edfu Temple

We wake up in a more forgiving 5:45 am to travel on horse driven carriages to the Edfu Temple in where else? The town of Edfu. The town itself lies in the middle of Luxor (100 kilometers south) and Aswan (115 kilometers north). A simple town, most of the shops are not yet opened and all are left are dusty wares from the carriages most likely. I wondered if there were actually tourists who would purchase such wares when they were already dirty.

The Temple of Edfu opens at 7:00 am and we were one of the few tour groups that were there bright and early, perhaps to beat the unforgiving morning sun. It is magnificent. From afar, you can already see the huge facades and you know it will only get better.

The temple itself worships the sun-deity Horus, who is usually depicted as a falcon headed man.

The structure was first built by Ptolemy III on 237 BCE but was completed two centuries later in 57 BCE by Ptolemy XII, who is better known as the seductress Cleopatra’s father. It is the second largest temple in Egypt after Karnak and also one of the best preserved, most likely because it was buried completely in sand through these years until its discovery by an Italian archeologist.

Entrance to the temple is via an amazing, massive pylon which stands 36 meters high (I assume it’s like a six- or seven-storied building tall) and decorated with reliefs of Ptolemy XII defeating his enemies while being watched by the god, Horus.

What’s amazing is the size of the structure. It was said that high priests enter the temple with such reverence, meaning while kneeling down. From the last pylon, onto the courtyard and to the temple itself, there are five columns in a row, followed by three, then two, leading up to the holiest place in the entire temple. Our guide said it is similar to a pyramid-like formation. 

Every part of the temple seems to be well-thought of.

For example, one stairway up to the roof is done in a spiral like pattern, similar to that of a falcon soaring up to the sky. The other side features the stairway going straight down, similar to how falcons fly back to the earth. I personally find the entire temple impressive and beautiful.

We then catch our carriage back to our boat hotel where we relax and have breakfast. Our itinerary today seems pretty light save for a dam sighting later on, doubtfully nothing impressive. However, for someone who’s been waking up before the break of dawn, I find the respite welcoming, and plan to spend the rest of the day asleep and recovering from my cold.

— Written last July 2010

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