Karnak – the largest ancient religious site in the world!
Egypt – sea, sand, heat, camels and yes, also rich history. About 3 million people go to Luxor annually. On the northern outskirts of Luxor, on the central Nile, is the famous Karnak – Egyptian temple complex.
Karnak is an open air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It is one of the top tourist magnets to Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period, although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes.
The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued into Ptolemaic times. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming.
- Karnak consists of huge pillars, towering columns, massive avenues of sphinxes, and an obelisk that stands 97-feet tall and weighs 323-tons.
- The 54,000 square feet Great Hypostyle Hall is large enough for the Cathedral of Notre Dame to fit in comfortably.
- More than 30 pharaohs in succession added to the temple.
- The construction of Karnak began in the 16th century BC.
- The only remaining obelisk weighs more than 323 tons.
- 80,000 slaves and servants served Amon-Ra. They were allowed on the sacred grounds because they weren’t considered to be people.