Egypt is blessed with numerous temples that can rival the number of stars but one temple is a bit special that is able to reflect 180 years of glorious historical events and artistic transformation. Edfu Temple is one of the most preserved cult temples in Egypt because it was one of the last temples built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 BC and 57 BC to be the main worship center of the sky God Horus. The greek called the temple Apollopolis Magna as they identified Horus with their God Apollo.
Edfu Temple Location
Edfu temple is located on the west bank of the Nile, 60 km north of Aswan. The temple perfectly reflects the history of the Ptolemaic culture with the Ancient Egyptian Pharaonic culture. The inscriptions and carving on its walls played a key role in providing useful information on the religious, linguistic aspects during the Hellenistic period in Egypt.
Edfu Temple History
Edfu Temple is the second largest temple in Egypt after the Karnak temple and was constructed by king Ptolemy III on 23 August 237 BC and was fully completed in the reign of Ptolemy XII in 57 BC.
The temple was built on the location where Horus the sky god fought his uncle Set the desert god to avenge the murder of his father Osiris the ruler of the underworld according to the popular Isis & Osiris myth, all this information was revealed thanks to important images and inscriptions found on the temple walls.
The temple lost its importance after the end of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity and the outlaw of paganism in 391 AD. Soon after the temple sunk in the sand, protected in the heart of the desert for centuries until it was excavated in 1860 by a French Egyptologist named Auguste Mariette who freed it from the sand and shed the light on it once again.
Architecture & Interior of Edfu Temple
The architecture of the temple is truly hypnotic as it perfectly combines the elements of both the Greek and the Egyptian style of architecture and culture. It has the traditional architectural style of the new kingdom contains a “Mamisi” ( house of divine birth for the greek) at the west of the entrance at the height of 36m and two granite statues of Horus. The temple was the site for the annual festival of coronation and the location where the re-enacting of the divine birth of Horus occurred. The temple honors other gods like Hator, Isis and Nut.
Edfu Temple Kings
It has one of the0 largest pylons of the Egyptian history reaching to the height of 37 m, constructed by Ptolemy IX around it is a group of halls one of which is the Hypostyle Hall, built by Ptolemy VII which contains a ceiling with astronomical painting symbolizing the sky supported by two rows of six Pillars, the hall of festivals and the hall of offerings which holds many decorations and images of Ptolemaic kings offering gifts to the gods.
The temple also contains a nilometer which was used to indicate the height of the Nile River. The holiest sector of the temple is “Sanctuary of Horus” as it contains a black granite shrine that was decorated by Nectanebo II making it the oldest relic in the temple, the wall shows Ptolemy IV worshipping Horus.