A Don’t Miss in Luxor – Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple, with its giant, looming columns, rows of sphinxes and beautifully preserved colors was the first site I visited upon arriving in Luxor, Egypt recently. I’ve spent a lifetime never hearing much about this temple before, and after I stepped foot on its grounds, I had to wonder why. Karnak’s complex is so massive and impressive that even after hitting all of Luxor’s other sights, this has remained one of my favorites.

Local man and woman touring Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple stands on Luxor’s East Bank, one of only two temples on this side of the beautiful green banks of the Nile River. Most of this town’s other historical wonders are on West Bank. You’ll undoubtedly have made an effort to allot enough time to see all of this history-rich region’s sights. Be sure to set aside anywhere from two to four hours to expolore Karnak because with the exception of the awesome Medinet Habu, I think it has the East Bank sights beat.

Some of the huge engraved columns at Karnak Temple

Ram-headed sphinxes at Karnak Temple in Luxor's East Bank

Giant pylon engraved with heiroglphics at Karnak Temple

Dating from the Middle Kingdom to the New Kingdom of ancient Egyptian history, the fact that the blue, yellow and red colors painted onto certains areas of the stone ceilings and columns are still visible is amazing to me.

Blue, yellow and red ceiling at Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt

Colorfully painted ceiling and top of column at Karnak

As with other temples in Luxor, Karnak has some extremely impressive engravings of heiroglyphics and figures on its walls.

Figures carved into wall at Karnak

Heiroglyphics on a wall of Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt

The many statues are likewise as detailed. Check out the toe nails on this foot!

Intricately carved toe nails on a foot at Karnak Temple

Unfortunately, some vandals have carved their modern names alongside the ancient engravings, in an effort to remind us all of just how disrespectful some people are, I guess. Alan and Rachel, who are you and why did you deface this temple?!

Alan and Rachel - graffiti at Karnak Temple

Don’t let the vandalism stop you from enjoying Karnak Temple. Look the other way and you’ll love it.

I received a tour of Karnak Temple courtesy of the Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa, but all opinions are honestly my own.

6 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Sam says:

    Hi, just wanted to say nice blog and good to see positive writings on Luxor. Like u I left the flat and job in the UK and swapped it for a backpack in 2010 and travelled around the world. I now find myself living in a villa I have built by the Nile here in Luxor. It’s funny where life can take u. Happy travels :)

  2. Sabina says:

    Ah, Sam, a villa in Luxor on the Nile – how amazing! You must be very happy there. Happy travels to you too :)

  3. Doc Wends says:

    Lovely photos of the Karnak temple and the last one caught my attention that in so far as other people’s lamentable behavior is concerned, they did not only defaced the temple walls in itself but perpetually damage humanity’s greatest art and heritage. Like you, I wonder why some people have the temerity to write down their names for all of us to see when after all we don’t care as much on their names and their motives are deplorable.

    More so, I am enlightened by this post. Cheers from the Philippines!

  4. Sabina says:

    Hi Doc, it is mind boggling how some people can value history and art so little that they permanently deface it. And for what? A thrill? Perhaps they also chisled off pieces of the ancient stone artifacts to take home with them. Alan, Rachel and the other people who carved their names into this wall might not have many people like them as, fortunately, I haven’t seen very much vandalism on other ancient Egyptian sights.

  5. Megan says:

    Wow, amazing. My partner and I are hoping to spend a week in Egypt sometime this spring. Any advice for two female travelers as far as avoiding harassment and staying safe?

  6. Sabina says:

    Hi Megan – I just saw your comment, so I apologize for being so late in replying.

    The level of harrassment varies from place to place. In my experience it is very low in Cairo and Dahab, for example, but quite significant in Luxor. It’s not really gender specific harrassment and certainly not sexual, although by virtue of the fact that we’re female we’re probably more prone to receiving offers of taxi rides, pleas to buy souvenirs, etc. than males.

    As far as staying safe, Egypt is still a safe country despite its recent massive troubles. There have, as you may have heard, been kidnappings in the Sinai, but in all cases all of the people have been released in approximately one day, unharmed. You need not worry about being in any particular location in Egypt. Rather, it’s the journey from place to place that could be a little questionable. Ask a tour operator or two as well as your hotel or hostel about bus, train and air travel once you arrive in Egypt. You can get a good and probably honest idea from them as to what you should watch out for.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Egypt!

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