About the temple
The Temple of Horus in the city of Edfu is actually the best-preserved temple of ancient Egypt and it is also the second largest Pharaonic temple in Egypt after the great Temple of Karnak. This is why many tourists who travel to Egypt commonly visit it.
Being the best architectural achievement of the Ptolemies in Egypt, the Temple of Horus in Edfu was another attempt the Ptolemies had to mimic the constructions of their forebears; the Pharaohs, and they spent more than 180 years to complete all the construction work of the temple.
Geographical Location of the Temple of Horus in Edfu
The Temple of Horus is located on the West Bank of the Nile in the city of Edfu which is 123 kilometers to the North of Aswan and about 65 kilometers to the South of Luxor. This is why the visit to the temple of Horus in Edfu is included in all travel packages in Egypt which have a Nile Cruise tour. Otherwise, the travelers enjoying their vacation in Egypt can reach the temple by a taxi or a bus from both; Luxor or Aswan.
The History of the Temple of Horus in Edfu
The name of the city of Edfu is actually derived from the Coptic word Etbo which is by its turn derived from the ancient Egyptian word; Gebo. This means that the city existed as far as the reign of the Old Kingdom and perhaps the prehistoric period in Egypt.
The construction work of the Temple of Horus in Edfu started in the year 237 BC in the reign of Ptolemy VII. The temple was constructed on the ruins of a much older Pharaonic temple that was dedicated to Horus as well. Due to the wars and the competing of the Ptolemies, the temple took a very long period to be completed as it was finished in 57 BC.
It was historically mentioned that Amenhotep, the chief priest of the Sun god Ra during the ruling period of the King Djoser, the first king of unified Egypt, built Horus a temple in Edfu as some ruins were found from this establishment in the second intermediate period of the ancient Egyptian history. Moreover, some Cartouches proved that many kings have also contributed to the construction of the temple afterwards including Seti I, Ramses III, and Ramses III.
The huge mission of constructing a great temple for the worship of the god Horus in Edfu started in 237 BC in the reign of Ptolemy III. The first structure of the temple was completed after 25 years in the ruling period of Ptolemy VI in 212 BC.
It is now clear that due to the frequent strife and many bloody revolutions that faced the ruling of the Ptolemies in Southern Egypt, the construction work in the Temple of Horus stopped many times until it was officially reopened again in 142 BC. This was why the Ptolemies considered the temple as their own Karnak and many of them had their contributions added to the temple of Horus.
The Description of the Temple of Horus in Edfu
The Temple of Horus in Edfu has the same common features and sections one finds in any ancient Egyptian temple. The first section in the temple is the pylon; the second is the open courtyard that is famous for its wonderful stone capitals that have plants decorations at their top.
The next section a visitor explores during in the temple of Horus in Edfu, as part of his tour in Egypt, is the hypostyle hall which consists of twelve huge columns and the its entrance is ornamented by two granite statues of the god Horus in the disguise of a falcon.
The hypostyle hall leads the visitor to a similar hall which is based on another twelve columns. There are two chambers at the entrance of this second hall. One of them was used as a library while the other was used for the storage of tools and gadgets that were used for religious rituals.
Afterwards, there are two lobbies; the first one was used to present the offerings to the gods while the other one was the resting place of the god; Horus.
The same as any other temple in ancient Egypt, the temple of Horus in Edfu ends with the sanctuary of the temple which used to host the sarcophagus made out of granite. There are twelve smaller chambers which are rich with marvelous colorful scenes on the walls.
The Temple of Horus in Edfu has a length of 138 meters and it is around 79 meters wide. The pylon of the temple is featured for being huge and impressive being 34 meters high and 68 meters long. The pylon has many wonderful wall carvings of Ptolemy Neos Dionysos who ruled Egypt from 117 till 51 BC.
The scenes include the king defeating his emeries in the presence of the god Horus. There are also some other scenes with the king presenting the offerings to the gods.
The main gate of the museum was usually closed in different periods of ancient times and it was made out of wood which inlaid bronze and gold with the wonderful statues of Horus on its both sides.
Among the most distinctive features of the Temple of Horus in Edfu is the Nilometer. Recognizing the importance of knowing the level of the water in the River Nile, the Ptolemies built a gadget to measure it in the temple. This is now located near the Eastern corridor of the temple.
Today many travelers who visit Egypt for their vacations prefer to include a Nile Cruise for three or four days. This is because it enables them to easily visit temples like the temple of Horus in Edfu and the Temple of Sobek in Kom Ombo while they enjoy the luxury of the Nile cruise ship with its facilities and the finest services.