Ancient Egyptian Temples

Religion was an essential component in Ancient Egyptian society and temples shaped an all-important part in their daily lives.

In the temple, Ancient Egyptians did not only communicate with their Gods through worship but also brought a range of offerings and celebrated their festivals.

Communicate with the souls of Gods

In Ancient times, Egyptians regarded temples as the home of Gods while they were on Earth.

They believed that they could communicate with the souls of Gods through cult sculptures that were found in the temple.

Unlike mosques and churches, ancient Egyptian temples were not a public place of worship but rather they are considered as a private sanctuary where only Pharaohs, high priests, and other nobles could enter.

Ordinary people worshipped outside and came into the courtyards to watch any ceremonial events.

The Afterlife

Found in the temples are Gods that were displayed in groups of threes and nines.

In Ancient Egyptian history, the significant trilogy was made up of Egyptian Gods such as Osiris, his partner Isis, and Horus.

According to a famed historian named Herodotus, Egypt had to have more statues than any other nation in the globe.

As a matter of fact, ancient Egyptians believed that destroying the monuments would result in disrupting the afterlife of their antecedents.

Archaeologists estimate that the earliest Egyptian temples were constructed during the middle of the 4th millennium B.C. in the structure of reed huts.

Among the famous temples in Egypt are:

  • Temple of Kom Ombo. Located close to the Nile River, the Temple of Kom Ombo is a rare double temple that was constructed during the Ptolemaic era. Ptolemy VI Philometor started the temple in the early stages of the second century B.C. It consists of two entrance points and two colonnades as well as two sanctums, courts, and halls.
  • Colossi of Memnon. The Colossi of Memnon was built during the 1350 B.C. It is made up of two huge stone monuments that portray a seating Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was once considered as one of the largest sculptures in Egypt but the Colossi of Memnon has suffered damages over the years with some features becoming virtually unidentifiable.
  • Temple of Karnak. The Temple of Karnak is known as the largest religious sanctuary in the world. It is composed of three primary Egyptian temples along with enclosed temples and several outer temples that are situated roughly three kilometers to the north of Luxor.
  • Luxor Temple. Situated on the east bank of the Nile River, the Luxor Temple was constructed in 1400 B.C. during the New Kingdom period. The temple was built in honor of three Egyptian Gods namely Chons, Amut, and Mut. At present, Luxor is among the top destinations in Upper Egypt thanks to a wide range of Nile cruises it offers.
  • Temple of Hatshepsut. The Temple of Hatshepsut can be found the opposite of the Luxor Temple in the Nile River. The temple which is made of three-layered terraces reaching 97 feet was built for Hatshepsut who ruled Ancient Egypt from 1479 B.C. until 1458 B.C.

Ancient Egyptian Temples Facts for Kids

  • The temples in Egypt are classified into two specific distinctions particularly the cultus or religious temple and the mortuary temple.
  • The cultus temples are primarily dedicated to Gods and other deities. It also hosted events such as festivals and rituals of worship.
  • Mortuary temples, on the other hand, are temples that are only accessible by Pharaohs and high priests.
  • Temples built during the Middle Kingdom and onwards consists of large rectangular spaces and high walls.
  • Among the primary reasons as to why Egypt was able to build temples was that they weren’t troubled with any wars.
  • Large temples such as the Temple of Karnak are recognized as the embodiments of old Egyptian cosmology.
  • Egyptian rulers often renovated the temples of their predecessors to not only save money but also destroy the memory of them.
  • The interior design of the Temple of Hatshepsut is considered by architects as the landmark of Egyptian architecture.

What did you learn?

What are inside the Temple of Karnak?
The Temple of Karnak is most famous for its 134 huge stone columns and 70-feet tall twelve-center columns that were built by Pharaoh Seti I during 1290 B.C.

What is the Luxor Temple known for?
The Luxor Temple is known for its massive sculptures of Pharaoh Ramesses II and the Avenue of Sphinx.

What is the largest temple in Ancient Egypt?
The largest temple in ancient Egypt is the Temple of Karnak. According to archaeologists, over 30 different Pharaohs helped build the temple.

What temple celebrates the festival of Opet?
The Luxor Temple celebrates the festival of Opet which is regarded as the most important gathering in Thebes.