Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My 5 Favourite Egyptian Temples

I am back from my holiday to Italy and Egypt and have recovered enough from the two-day journey home to post a little about my wanderings.

When in Egypt, one sees many incredible temples and risks the widespread disease of temple fatigue. I, however, was not inflicted by this common ailment and will continue to search the world for the most unique and awe-inspiring temples. Egypt has the second largest temple in the world after Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which I saw last year. I will have to research the third largest and head there next.
Meanwhile, I will start with the second largest and my favourite Egyptian temple:

1) Temple of Amun at Karnak
This temple was immense, atmospheric and beautiful. Definitely my favourite. It was started around 2000 BC and was still being added to in 100 BC by Cleopatra. This temple can be seen in various movies as it typifies an Egyptian temple.

2) Abu Simbel
Cut into the rock face, this enormous structure was raised 61meters to save it from the flooding by the artificial lake , Lake Nassar, created by the Aswan High Dam. The 20 meter high statues represent RamsesII, known as the great builder. He ruled Egypt from 1290 - 1224 BC. Next to it is the smaller temple built for his favourite wife, Nefertari.
More amazing than this surprisingly intact temple with its clear drawings and beautiful colours, was the four-year process which saw the temple saved from the encroaching waters. Many nations came together to save this truly precious piece of ancient history.
Reaching this temple required a three-hour bus trip from Aswan in a convoy with a military escort. These stretches of bleak desert are the ideal spots for terrorist attacks. No one has forgotten the 1997 attack at my next temple.

3) Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
This amazing temple is built up against a cliff face out in the desert - a hot, sandy desert which saps your energy and causes copious outpourings of liquid from the body. There's no need for a toilet because it's virtually impossible to replace the fluids fast enough to counter the perspiration. Did you know you can perspire from your eyelids? While I was there, Egypt was gripped by a heat wave and we often reached temperatures in the mid to high 50's (centigrade.) This is the temple where terrorists killed 48 tourists in 1997. When chased by the locals, they then killed themselves. I kept a keen eye out over the cliffs for any untoward movements in our direction.

4) Temple of Kom Ombo
We stopped at this temple on the banks of the Nile while cruising between Luxor and Aswan. It was in a particularly picturesque setting and worth the risk of a heat stroke. This temple is dedicated to two gods, Horus and Sobek. Sobek, the crocodile god, was much needed in this spot as the river here was noted for crocodiles until early this century.

5) Philae Temple
This temple was also saved from the raised level of the river caused by the Aswan Dam. It now sits on an island in the Nile. The deeply etched carvings and drawings on the walls and ceilings of all these temples depict the life and death journey of the Pharoahs. Only the high priests and the Pharoahs were allowed into the inner sanctum of these temples and I often wondered at the egoism involved in such a decision. Like all religious buildings present and past, they represent man's desperate need to believe in life after death - the need to conquer the fear of death.


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

SQUEE!!! I missed you, Suzanne, and look what MAGNIFICENT photos and what a GREAT post you are showing us!!! FASCINATING!!!

Abu Simbel...I would love to see the beautiful colors and drawings!!! We've seen this temple in movies.

WOOT!!! Can't wait to journey more with you on your blog and I hope to see your trip show up in your books. :D

Big Hugs, Nancy

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Your bookcover for BENEATH THE SURFACE looks GREAT too!!! I look forward to the book's release. :D

SOOO glad you're back!!!

Hugs, Nancy

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Thanks Nancy for the welcome back home. I would love to be able to show you photos of the inside of Abu Simbel, but unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside that particular temple.
I'll have to think about what to post next and then of course there's Italy too. So much to say, so little time...


raine said...

Suzanne, the temples are breathtaking, and your photos are beautiful!
It's hard for me to even imagine something remaining intact for that long. Well worth the trip, I'm sure--and thank you so much for sharing with us!

And welcome back. :)

Suzanne Perazzini said...

They are breathtaking, Raine, and definitely worth the heat and tummy bug to see. The age of everything is just overwhelming and hard to take in.


Bernita said...

Makes one think deep thoughts.
Wonderful photos.

Sandpiper said...

Outstanding! This is a place I will visit someday. This, and Machu Picchu! My in-laws visited Egypt on one of their many trips, and I loved seeing pictures of my Mother in-law sitting on a camel, because it was sooooo unlike her! :-) Your pictures are wonderful and I like the descriptions you wrote about them. It sounds like you had a fantastic time!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I haven't been sick. Just burned out and very tired, so I took a short break for some "me" time. I'm back now. Thanks for asking. :-)

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Bernita, I had deep thoughts the whole time I was there - hurt the brain.


Suzanne Perazzini said...

Sandpiper, Machu Pichu is definitely high on my list but is somewhat out of the way on our usual route back to Italy but I'll get there some day.
I wasn't feeling too hot the day of the camel ride so I sat that one out.
"Me Time" is a great thing to do for ourselves every now and then but we so often forget to do it until we are exhausted. I'm glad to see you're back now.

Footsteps said...

Wonderful post! I know very little beyond the rudimentary, readily available info on these temples. Thank for sharing and piquing my interest even more...

Suzanne Perazzini said...

You're welcome, Heather. Egypt is certainly worth putting on your must-see list.