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Temple of Dendera: A Remarkable Ancient Egyptian Site

The Temple of Dendera is a well-preserved ancient Egyptian temple located on the west bank of the Nile River, just south of Qena and north of Luxor in Egypt. It is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, who was revered as the goddess of love, maternity, and beauty in ancient Egyptian mythology. Visitors to Egypt often make a point of visiting the Temple of Dendera along with the nearby Temple of Abydos in Sohag.

Construction of the original temple dates back to the Old Kingdom era and was rebuilt and embellished over the years by various New Kingdom monarchs including Tuthmosis III, Amenophis III, Rameses II and III, and later by the Ptolemaic and Roman rulers of Egypt. The temple as it stands today is from the Greco-Roman period, having been rebuilt during the Ptolemaic era and then restored and renovated during the Roman rule in Egypt.

Dendera Complex (Photo Source: egypttoursportal)

The Temple of Dendera is approximately 35 meters wide and 12 meters tall with six beautifully ornamented Hathor capital columns on the facade. Visitors can also see a corridor with 18 columns, with sunrays penetrating different sections of the temple. Inside the temple, visitors will find wall carvings depicting the emperor wearing the crown of Egypt during coronation rituals and other wall paintings of the emperor laying the foundation of the temple.

The temple’s ceiling features some remarkable astronomical scenes, and visitors can explore the small hall of columns, which has a granite base and a limestone capital. This section tells the story of the temple’s construction and shows the king presenting offerings to the gods Hathor and Horus. There are also six small chambers surrounding the hall of columns and two front chambers situated one after the other.

The Linen Room, where cloth from Lower Egypt used to be stored, is one of these rooms. Visitors can also find a narrow corridor leading to the most sacred area of the temple where religious rituals took place. The temple’s roof has several levels that correspond to the different rooms and sections below.

Visitors exiting the Temple of Dendera will see scenes on the outside walls of the temple depicting the king planning the temple’s construction. Behind the temple lies a small chapel dedicated to the goddess Isis and a small sacred lake. In front of the temple, there is a large Roman birthplace built during the reign of Augustus, the Roman Emperor, with scenes of the god Bes, who was associated with marriage and birth-giving.

The ruins of a Coptic church that dates back to the 5th century are also nearby, where over 50,000 monks used to celebrate Easter. Though it is located outside of the scope of Nile Cruise ships that sail between Luxor and Aswan, the Temple of Dendera is still a remarkable historical site that any traveler interested in the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman periods of Egypt should visit. (ICEMS)

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