16 April 2010

Secret Passages - Luxor, Egypt [Day Five]

I woke the morning of day five in a different place to where I had gone to sleep - the sneeky felucca crew had sailed us across the river in the early hours, ready for our bus to take us to Luxor. So after a quick breakfast and farewell, we were on our way.

After a short while we stopped to visit the Temple of Kom Ombo. Before entering we were greeted by this friendly chap on the right, which was nice. The temple is quite 'new' in ancient Egyptian terms, being built around 200BC. It is also unique, as it is split down the middle, each side dedicated to a different god. Much of the temple has been destroyed by earthquakes, and many of the stones have been taken by locals over the years for their houses - again, the people didn't realise the significance of these buildings.

There are some other interesting things about this temple. First there is an ancient calender carved into one of the walls of the temple (left). I think our guide said it was one of the first in existence (don't quote me on that).

There is another interesting carving - which Andy is posing infront of (right). Apparently they had a clinic behind the temple, and one of the things they treated was prostate problems. If you zoom in you can see one of, errr, 'them', has more drips coming out of it!

One other interesting part of the temple was the very back, or the 'holy of the holies'. This is where the statues of the gods sat, and where people came to lay their offerings. As the temple is now in ruins, you can see a secret tunnel that leads to a space between the two holy of the holies (this temple has two, one for each of the gods). This was used by the preist to pretend he was the voice of the god - to tell people what they needed to do or the offerings they needed to bring. You can see in the photo to the left - the grate is covering the secret tunnel, you can see another grate further up in the secret area if enlarge the photo. The two large stones are the alters where the people laid their offerings to the gods (the one on the left is surrounded with people).

The last interesting thing I'm going to tell you about - there was colour! That's right, the ancient Egyptians had paint. When built, the temple was filled with colour. Even now after thousands of years, you can still see it on certain parts of the temple.

We piled back on the bus, our next destination was The Temple of Horus, which is in a small village called Edfu. The village itself was an experience. It was interesting to see how people lived in rural Egypt. Just to see people going about their daily business - working, buying things from the shops etc. The shops themselves were interesting - especially the food. I don't think I would ever buy meat from one of these places - they just had it hanging out in the open. But the fruit and vegetables looked so good! Donkeys seemed to be the main mode of transport - lots of people riding them, some with carts on the back carrying huge loads. The town itself seemed very run down, and so much sand and dust! I guess you have to expect that in the middle of the desert.

The Temple of Horus is the second largest temple in Egypt and one of the best preserved. Trust me, its huge! And very impressive. The carvings, the columns, the statues are all enourmous. And everything is still almost as it was when it was built thousands of years ago. It's like a time capsule.

Early Christians did some major damage in these temples. Many of the carvings have been scratched out. The roof has also be blackened, which is believed to be the result of fires intended to destroy religious imagery. The Christians caused quite a lot of damage to the ancient Egyptian temples and monuments all over Egypt - mainly to make the statement that it was a fake religion, and I guess lead people to Christianity.

I don't have a lot else to say about this temple, but it was one of the best we visited. As it is so intact - it gives a real sense of what these buildings were like. So definitely make the effort to get to it if you are in this part of the world.

After about an hour in the bus we arrived at our hotel in Luxor. We thought the hotel in Aswan was nice - but this place was off the hook! A huge pool, surrounded by umbrellas and loungers, a bar IN the pool, a view overlooking the Nile. Paradise.

We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool. When the sun went down we hit our third temple for the day - Luxor Temple. The temple was built around 1400BC. It is full of columns and statues, which I can imagine look impressive during the day, but amazing lit up at night.

There is a massive obelisk out front, built by Queen Hatshepsut which stands over over 35m tall. There is also a row of sphinx statues that once ran over for over four kilometres between Luxor and Karnak temples, called the Avenue of the Sphinx. Only a small part is of it left now, but it gives you an idea of the scale these people built on. Small was not in their vocabulary.

Evidence of early Christians are also in this temple - this painting of saints is on one of the walls (left).

Again, I don't have a whole lot of interesting stories about this temple, but its amazing! I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking...

That night we all went out together for a buffet dinner. Afterwards the Irish girls wanted to see some Irish rugby game that was being played, so we found an Irish pub and went in for a pint. Just to put things in perspective - I think we were extremely lucky to find an Irish pub - it may be the only Irish pub in all of Luxor, if not all of Egypt! And there really wasn't a lot Irish about it anyway. I don't even think they served Guinness. And as it turns out, they weren't showing the game either. So we finished our Egyptian beer and made our way back to the hotel bar. After such a huge day I was almost falling asleep on my feet. We also had another ridiculously early morning the following day, so after one drink I did the smart thing and called it a day.

Next Post - 'UP!'

1 comment:

  1. I came across your site by accident and I just loved your blog.
    I am now following you!
    Thank you so much for your thorough review.
    Love it! Fabulous video, as well.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...