I’ll never forget seeing the glorious ancient temples of Egypt for the first time. And with each visit to Egypt, we are continuously impressed again and again. After all, Egypt houses the greatest temples on earth.
While many Egyptian temples are world-famous there are other ancient temples that you may not have heard of. These are the most impressive temples from ancient Egypt that you’ll want to add to your bucket list.
Ancient Temples in Egypt
It is difficult to grasp just how ancient everything is in Egypt. Everywhere we went, we came across temples that were thousands of years old. The earliest Egyptian temples date back to the 4th millennium BC. Wow! That means there are ancient Egyptian temples dating back to the 4th century BC!
Types of Egyptian Temples
There are two types of temples in Egypt – Mortuary Temples and Cult Temples.
Funerary or Mortuary temples are shrines to kings and cult temples are houses of worship. It helps to know which of the ancient temples you are visiting to better understand your tour.
1. Karnak Temple
The Karnak Temple took an astounding 2000 years to build from 2055 BC to 100 AD. Karnak was dedicated to three Ancient Egypts Gods, God Amun-Re, Mut, and Montu. And its main temple building was the largest religious site ever built.
The most impressive thing to see is its Hypostyle Hall. A hypostyle hall is a room of pillars with a roof on top and Karnak’s hypostyle hall is huge. It is a structure of 134 columns arranged in 16 rows. This area alone covered 54,000 sq. ft (16,459 meters) We highly recommend hiring a guide to take you through Karnak Temple, it is one of the largest ancient ruins in the world.
2. Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is one of the most impressive ancient Egyptian temples. Abu Simbel temple was originally built on lower ground on the Nile River but today it stands on Lake Nassar near the Sudanese border. With the creation of the Aswan Dam, an enormous undertaking was initiated in the 1960s to move the ruins to higher ground to keep them from becoming submerged under Lake Nassar.
They are now safe and sound at their current location. Four 20 meter statues representing Ramesses II stand guard over the banks of the lake. Built around 1265 BC, three of the statues are still in relatively good shape for a temple dating back to ancient Egypt. You can take a tour from Luxor or Aswan to see these temples up close and personal, I think that it is well worth the 280km travel from Luxor. Next to the pyramids, they are one of the most recognizable ancient temples in Egypt.
- We recommend taking a Nile River Cruise to Aswan and spending a few days here to see Abu Simbel.
- Don’t have time to see it all? Book a 2 day tour from Cairo to Luxor and Abu Simbel to see the most impressive ancient Egyptian temples in a short time.
3. Medinet Habu
The temple of Medinet Habu may not be the most recognizable temple from Ancient Egypt but it is impressive. was dedicated to Ramses III. What we found interesting to see were the painted columns that are still intact. This temple is found on the West Bank of Luxor. It is the second-largest ancient temple in Egypt and it is famous for its statues of Ramses III. These Pharaohs weren’t vain at all!
Fascinated with ancient temples and cities? See more of these cities.
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- The Incredible Temples of Bagan, Myanmar
4. Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Located near the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of the Nile, the mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is the most impressive ancient temple that we visited in Egypt. The Valley of the Kings is home to the mortuary temples of the ancient Pharaohs and this is the burial tomb for Queen Hatshepsut who died in 1458 BC.
Egypt was way ahead of its time by thousands of years. It had female rulers, and Hatshepsut was one of their most successful Pharaohs. She ruled for 21 years. Known to be one of the most dramatically situated temples in the world, it is an awe-inspiring sight.
Built into the side of a large cliff, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut has three tiers leading out to the desert. At one time this land was filled with lush vegetation, but now it is dry. Even though the land has gone barren, it is no less impressive. In fact, it looks more imposing as it is framed by massive cliffs.
Take a tour of the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple with Get Your Guide. Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
5. Ramesseum Temple
Ramses II is one of the most famous pharaohs making a visit here very exciting for history buffs. Or fans of the Mummy movies. Originally built as a mortuary temple for Ramses II this temple is similar to Medinet Habu due to its giant statues dedicated to Ramses. That Ramses family, they loved honoring themselves.
6. Luxor Temple
While in Luxor it’s easy to visit the Luxor Temple. Located right in town on the Nile River, it is an impressive sight. We enjoyed seeing it most at night as it is lit up breathtaking photo opportunities.
A little travel tip...the McDonald’s right across the street has an incredible view of the temple, but not only that, has free wifi. So you can have lunch, update your blog and take in the sights all at once. People will hate me for mentioning McDonalds and Luxor Temple together, but hey, you have to find wifi where and when you can.
7. Temple of Kom Ombo
Located on the Nile River the Temple of Kom Ombo is an ancient temple dedicated to two different Gods. Horus the Elder was one of the oldest Gods of ancient Egypt and The God Sobek. The God of the Nile Crocodile. This is a twin temple with two temples built to mirror each other.
8. Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu is located on the West Bank of The Nile and is one of the best-preserved ancient Egyptian temples. Construction began in 237 BC and ended in 57 BC by Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos. A very cool thing about touring this temple is that it still has its roof so you are not simply walking through ancient temple ruins.
9. Temple of Seti I
This is a beautiful Egyptian temple that is located farther up the Nile from the other Luxor Temples in Abydos. What is worth seeing here is the Abydos King List found on the wall of the temple that lists the seventy-six kings of ancient Egypt.
10. Mortuary Temples Valley of the Kings
We didn’t go inside King Tuts Tomb, our guide said that it is not an impressive temple compared to the others.
We instead went into Rameses VI, Merneptah, and Rameses IV temples. The chambers are surprisingly large and airy. They have bright paintings on their walls depicting scenes from the book of the dead, and the book of caverns among others.
I was surprised how comfortable I felt inside they were almost cheerful. They were large, bright, and colorful giving a sense of peace. Albeit, there aren’t any sarcophagi left and all jewels and artifacts have either been looted in the past or moved to the Antiquities Museum. Still a very impressive sight indeed.
Egyptian Temples Facts
The ancient Egyptians believed that these temples were homes to the Gods when in fact they were places of worship for the Pharaohs. Priests performed the rituals of the temple, but religion wasn’t the same as we know it today. The King was actually more important than religion and priests acted on the king’s authority.
Egypt’s Kingdoms were broken down into the New Kingdom and the Old Kingdom. The New Kingdom lasted from 1570–1070 BC and was ancient Egypt’s most prosperous time. This is when many of the temples were built. The Valley. of the Kings was built for the New Kingdom Pharaohs. The Old Kingdom spanned from 2575 BC to 2150 BC and was known as the time of the Pyramids. It was during this time that the Pyramids of Giza were built.
Map of Famous Egypt Temples
Ancient Egyptian temples are fascinating to explore and learn about. When visiting Egypt you must take a tour to learn all the facts about the temples of ancient Egypt.
Coming from such a young country as Canada, I am fascinated with living in history. Every building, structure, and monument has a story to tell.
We had the privilege of cycling from Cairo to Luxor and followed the Nile River all the way down to Aswan. During that trip, we witnessed many ancient temples where at the time, we didn’t even realize their significance.
It wasn’t until coming home to do more research that we learned just how ancient and fascinating the history of these Ancient Egyptian temples.
let’s take a look at all the Egyptian temples that we’ve seen.