Detail of the statue of Horus on the inner courtyard.
The second temple we visited on our trip was Edfu temple. The cruise ship brought us to our new destination over night, which I found a very comfortable way of traveling. It’s not a cruise ship like the big oceanic hotels you see cruising the open seas, but it’s a smaller ship with a sundeck, small swimming pool, a deck with bedrooms and a dining hall / disco in the evening – a part I skipped. We mostly sat on deck, enjoying the cool evening breeze and the lights of villages passing by. In the morning you could see kids running into the Nile to swim and bath, and women doing their washing before the midday sun got too hot. Small Feloukas came by your window, selling fruits and vegetables.
The temple of Edfu is dedicated to Horus, one of the main Gods in Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed that he was the sky. His right eye was the sun, his left the moon. They traversed the sky when he flew along it, in the form of a falcon. He is therefore mostly shown as a falcon, or a man with the head of a falcon. He also played an important role in war and hunting.
When we arrived at the templesite, we saw an Egyptian class that was also about to visit. How cool must it be, to have those magnificent temples as your school-excursion when you’re 8?
This temple is considered as the best preserved temple. It was built quite late (237 to 57 B.C.). When you arrive at the entrance you are greeted by two massive columns, 37m high, decorated with war scenes of King Ptolemy VIII defeating his enemies in front of the watchfull eye of Horus.
Passing through the massive gate, you enter the offering courtyard. This part of the temple used to be open to the public. People would come and bring offerings to Horus.
All around this courtyard you can find hieroglyps that are “standing out” of the wall, instead of being carved in. I found those even more beautiful than the ones that are carved in.
When you go through the gate on the other side of the offering courtyard, you are brought to another courtyard, where you can explore the sanctuary inside the temple. You can see a ceremonial burial boat, used to transfer the Pharaoh over the Nile to his last resting place, and the high altar. This is the place where the Pharaoh and the high priest consulted Horus for advice.
I found this temple the most impressive one I saw on my trip, although my favourite was the smaller temple of Kom Ombo, which I will show you in a later blogpost. I will end with another beautiful image of the Nile at sunset.