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Why Temple of Horus at Edfu
Needs to Be in Your Egypt Itinerary
A visit to the Temple of Horus at Edfu needs to be in your Egypt itinerary. It is full of some of the coolest things to see.
Don’t miss this guide: What to See During Your Visit to the Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt!
How to Get to the Temple of Horus at Edfu
Apparently, as my tour guide told me, the only way to get from the cruise boat to the Temple of Horus at Edfu is by a horse drawn carriage. He explained to me that the roads leading to the temple are so narrow that they do not support any vans or buses. So, the tourist transport operation relies solely on the horse drawn carriages. However, I really doubt that this is the case.
Anyway, once you step out of your Nile River cruise boat, you will see literally hundreds of horse drawn carriages waiting for the tourists.
Now, I want to be honest and say that, in my opinion, some of the horses are just skin and bones. And, it leads me to believe that they are mistreated by their owners.
This operation, certainly, gives employment to a large number of people, however, it should not be done at the expense of these poor animals.
My only recommendation is that you select a horse that looks well taken care of. And, make sure to tip the owner of that horse. It is a dire situation and I feel that we as tourists have the power to help.
Where Is Edfu Located
If you are a part of the Nile River cruise, that goes from Aswan to Luxor, then this will be your second day of cruising.
The first stop of the second day of cruising is usually the Temple of Kom Ombo and then Crocodile Mummy Museum. Next, you will pass by Gebel el-Silsila. And, the last stop of the day is a visit to the Temple of Horus at Edfu.
However, to put things in perspective, the city of Edfu is situated in Upper Egypt, about 100 km south of Luxor.
Map Credit: Map date 2020 ORION-ME
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The Temple of Horus at Edfu
The city of Edfu is famous for its large sandstone Temple dedicated to the falcon-headed god Horus.
As my guide told me, the Temple of Horus at Edfu was built during the Ptolemaic Period. Specifically, it was started in 237 BC by Ptolemy III Euergetes and finished some 180 years later, around 57 BC by Ptolemy XII Auletes.
It is considered to be the most complete and the best preserved ancient temple structure in Egypt.
Source: Ancient Egypt Online
The Temple at Edfu Dedicated to the Falcon-Headed God Horus
Horus was usually depicted as a falcon or as a falcon-headed man.
At Edfu, Horus was worshiped as the falcon Horus of Behdet.
Horus of Edfu was locked in a perpetual battle with Set and his army of darkness to make sure that the sun rises every morning.
In Edfu, he was considered to be the husband of Hathor and the father of Hor-sema-tawy (“Horus Uniter of the Two Lands” also known as Harsomptus).
After eighty years of battle, he was awarded the kingship of Upper and Lower Egypt by the tribunal of gods. In Edfu and Kom Ombo he was also known as Panebtawy (“lord of the two lands”) and in Behedet he was worshipped as Hor-Iwn-Mutef (“Horus pillar of his mother”).
Source: Ancient Egypt Online
Map of The Temple of Horus at Edfu
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu is composed of an impressive pylon. It stands at a height of 130 feet.
Pylon is the Greek term (Greek: πυλών) for a monumental gateway of an Egyptian temple (Egyptian: bxn.t in the Manuel de Codage transliteration). It consists of two tapering towers, each surmounted by a cornice, joined by a less elevated section which encloses the entrance between them. The entrance was generally about half the height of the towers. Contemporary paintings of pylons show them with long poles flying banners.
Now, take a look at the reliefs decorating the twin towers. As you can see, the carved out scenes are the mirror images of each other and represent pharaoh Ptolemy XII defeating his enemies.
There are four large openings that, apparently, as my tour guide told me, were used to anchor the flags.
Two granite statues of Horus as falcon guard the entrance gate.
Once you cross the entrance gate, make sure to turn around and take a look at the back side of the pylon. It has some impressive reliefs depicting Happy Reunion feast, in which Horus of Edfu is united with Hathor of Dendera.
The marriage was celebrated twice a year, once at the Temple of Edfu, and then again, at the Dendera Temple.
Happy Reunion feast, celebrating the marriage of Horus with Hathor of Dendera (illustrated in the temple’s courtyard, on the reverse of the pylon). Each year, when the Nile was in spate, Hathor left her home in Dendera to rejoin her husband, Horus of Edfu.
The courtyard is surrounded on three sides by a covered colonnade of thirty-two columns.
The Outer or Great Hypostyle Hall at the Temple of Horus at Edfu
Beyond the courtyard is the majestic Outer or Great Hypostyle Hall made up of twelve columns in two rows.
If you look up you will be rewarded with a view of amazing floral capitals and the ceiling adorned with astronomical imagery.
The Inner Hypostyle Hall at the Temple of Hours at Edfu
Next, beyond the Outer Hypostyle Hall lies the second, smaller, yet even more impressive, the Inner Hypostyle Hall.
It has twelve columns which are lined up in three rows.
There are three small side rooms that are adjacent to the Inner Hypostyle Hall.
To the left, you will find the Room of the Nile. It was used to store the water necessary for purification.
Next to it is a very interesting room which was used to make the perfumes used in rituals. The walls of this room are covered with detailed instructions for obtaining different scents.
To the right of the Inner Hypostyle Hall used to be the Treasury. It contained objects that were used to adorn the statues of the gods.
The Hall of Offerings
Next, we the Hall of Offerings.
This narrow room was used for the burning of food and oil offerings for the gods.
Beyond the Hall of Offerings is the Vestibule or the Antechamber. This is the last room before the entrance into the most sacred portion of the temple, which is the Naos.
Finally, the Naos.
In the Hellenistic culture of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in ancient Egypt, the cella referred to that which is hidden and unknown inside the inner sanctum of a Egyptian temple, existing in complete darkness, meant to symbolize the state of the universe before the act of creation.
The cella, also called the naos, holds many box-like shrines. The Greek word naos has been extended by archaeologists to describe the central room of the pyramids.
Towards the end of the Old Kingdom, naos construction went from being subterranean to being built directly into the pyramid, above ground. The naos was surrounded by many different paths and rooms, many used to confuse and divert thieves and grave robbers.
The naos at the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the shrine built by Nectanebo II. It is the oldest part of the temple. It holds a black monolithic block engraved with the cartouche of Nectanebo II.
As my guide told me, the shrine contained the sacred barks of Horus and Hathor which were used in processions. As well as, the statue of Horus.
Chambers, Chapels, and Store Rooms
The shrine is surrounded by chambers, chapels, store rooms, and corridors.
On the east side are chambers that served as a storage for precious metals and stones.
To the west are chambers that served as places for making sacred oils and ointments, with instructions on the walls.
The Discovery of the Temple of Horus at Edfu
The Temple of Horus at Edfu stopped being used as a place of worship following Theodosius I‘s edict banning non-Christian worship within the Roman Empire in 391 AD.
Over the centuries, the temple became buried beneath the desert sand.
Local inhabitants built homes directly over the former temple grounds.
In 1798 the temple was discovered by the French expedition. It was not until 1860, when Auguste Mariette began the excavation of the Temple of Hours at Edfu.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
The Temple of Horus at Edfu is open from 7 am till 4 pm October through May and 7 am till 5 pm June through September.
The entrance ticket costs 180 EGP.
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