The Ramesseum is one of the distinctive temples of ancient Egypt. Knowing his founder, Ramses II, the most famous builder in ancient Egypt who is credited for many magnificent monuments like Abu Simbel, the Hypostyle Hall in the Karnak Temple, and large gigantic statues like his Colossi in Memphis, many tourists who visit Egypt admire the great former king of Egypt.
Although not being included in many Egypt tours, the Ramesseum is surly worth a visit for its amazing architecture and remarkable decorations.
The Temple of the Ramesseum is situated in the West Bank of Luxor in the rout to many interesting monuments like the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of Queens, the Temple of Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon. These monuments are added in all Egypt travel packages that include a visit to Luxor.
The West Bank of Luxor was the city of the dead in the ancient times. This is why many marvelous mortuary monuments and ancient necropolises are situated in this section of the city.
The Ramesseum was established by Ramses II, who ruled Egypt in the period from 1279 till 1213 BC as his mortuary temple, like many other kings and queens of ancient Egypt. Many scholars assert that the Ramesseum was actually constructed at the end of the life of the famous king, maybe in the last ten years of his life.
Although many sections of the Ramesseum are now in ruins, the temple reflects the greatness of Ramses II. The Ramesseum had large walls surrounding it being 270 meters long and 170 in widths. The Temple was actually designed similar to the smaller temple of Seti I situated next to it.
When tourists enjoying their vacations in Egypt reach the Ramesseum, the first thing they see is a large pylon that is 66 meters in width. Scenes from the famous battle of Kadesh dominate the pylon. This was the battle when Ramses II defeated the Hittites and stopped them from advancing inside the lands of Egypt. This is why the scenes of the battle are common in many buildings constructed by Ramses II.
A set of stairs situated in the Northern section of the pylon leads to the roof of it. The entrance of the temple has some wonderful wall carvings of Ramses II presenting offerings to the gods including Amun, Horus, Hathour, and Ptah.
The guests afterwards reach the first open courtyard, where they can admire the scenes of the pylon from inside where many scenes from Kadesh are carved on the walls as well. We see some military fortresses, some Asian prisoners, and a scene of the king with his army officers in the beginning of a battle. There are also some other scenes of the fortified city of Kadesh and next to it there is Ramses II defeating his enemies.
The first courtyard used to have two columns of huge statues in the Southern section of it in front of the smaller palace of Ramses II that consisted of a hypostyle hall with 16 huge pillars in four rows. There were also many chambers constructed around the palace like the throne hall and a little palace of the women of the king.
In the Northern section of the first courtyard, there were large Osiris columns. However, only the bases of two large statues of Ramses II remained until today. At the end of the first courtyard, there are some stairs that lead the guest to the second courtyard.
Next to the entrance of the second courtyard, there are the ruins of a huge statue of Ramses II which was made out of one piece of black granite. This state was more than 19 meters in height and it weighed more than one thousand tons.
The second pylon is smaller than the first with scene from the battle of Kadesh all over its walls. This is besides some scenes from the celebration of the god of Amun in the season of the harvest.
Despite that the second courtyard is smaller than the first, it has a significant importance. It used to host many sections of the temple with a large number of Papyrus columns with only four of them remaining until today. This is besides a number of Osiris style columns with only a few number of them surviving until today as well.
The hypostyle hall of the Ramesseum is similar in its outline and design to that of the Karnak Temple, established by Ramses II as well. The roof of the hall used to stand on 48 cylinder shaped columns divided into six rows. There are 12 of them that survived until today with being 8 to 10 meters high on average.
The most important scene in the hypostyle hall of the Ramesseum can be seen in the Eastern walls of it. This is where Ramses II is running after the god; Mut, and another god represented in the shape of a ram. Ramses II also offers wine to one of the gods and some perfumes to the god Osiris. There is also a large wall carving of Ramses II attacking his enemies with his war wagon and his horses.
Afterwards, there is a smaller hypostyle hall with the ceiling dominated with astronomical scenes and based on large columns with stone capitals that have the shape of the papyrus plant. The walls of this hall have many religious scenes of the king and his priests during religious events.
The Ramesseum, among many other less visited monuments in the West Bank of Luxor, like the Temple of Ramses III of Madinet Habu, The Tombs of the Nobles, and workers village, are always worth a visit especially for tourists who travel to Egypt for its wonderful Pharaonic monuments.
Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass discovered the “lost golden city” near the western bank of Luxor that was hidden under the sands of Egypt for more than 3000 years ago.