Itinerary Day 10: Luxor - Dendera Temple
"After breakfast, we start our trip to visit Dendera Temple: Forty Seven miles (75 kilometers) to the northeast of Luxor lies one of the best-preserved temple complexes in the whole of Egypt. The complex of Dendera Temple is 47,839 square yards (40,000 square meters), or 9 acres, in size, bordered by an immense mud brick enclosure wall. It was the site of many temples and shrines since Pre-Dynastic times, Pepi I built here in the 6th Dynasty and it is also known that an 18th Dynasty temple once stood here. However, the earliest building still standing there today is the Mammisi (a small chapel that is attached to a larger temple, and is associated with the birth of a god) of Nektanebo II; who was the last pharaoh of the 30th Dynasty and the last native ruler of Ancient Egypt."
We were up early for the drive to Dendera Temple. The words most commonly associated with the temple complex is "best preserved" and that description proved to be apt. The vibrant colors from the recently cleaned ceiling images, the detailed relief carvings inside and out combined with the statuary, pillars, and vistas from the roof were amazing and almost too much to absorb. Part of what makes this site so compelling is the accessibility - we are literally touching distance from walls filled with extraordinary art and architecture dating back millennia.
Again we are struck by the extraordinary breadth of history we are seeing as exemplified in this single site. This was the site of temples from pre-dynastic times ranging 5,000 years ago to Roman occupation in the Christian era.
Some of the Ancient Egypt's "greatest hits" are/were found here. The Dendera Zodiac (a copy - the original is in the Louvre), the Dendera "light" that so excites Ancient Alien enthusiasts and the only carved image of Cleopatra VII (the Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra) are all here.
Cleopatra and her son Ptolmey XV aka Ceasarion
|"Ancient Alien" Egyptian with Incandescent Light And/Or Death Ray|
In case Dendera wan't sufficiently overwhelming, we returned to Luxor for an afternoon tour of Karnak, arguably the most famous site in Upper Egypt. The second largest religious site in the world behind Angor Watt, and the second most popular tourist site in Egypt behind the Giza Pyramids, the Karnak complex was built by 30 Pharaohs dating from before 2,000 BC. It's a lot to absorb. At some point, you just stop trying to get your mind around the monumental art and history surrounding you and just try to drink it all in. A few pictures and highlights:
|The Jerusalem Glyph|
We were beat by the time we got back to the Winter Palace Hotel, but were determined to enjoy the historic venue.
Cleaned up our act, checked out the grounds, then retired to the classic bar for libations and nourishment.
They make a mean Manhattan. Sigrid says she's never leaving and I should forward her mail to the Winter Palace.
P.S. After this epic day, we learned of an even more epic event back home. We have a new addition to our family. My sister texted me to let us know that my niece's baby arrived. I guess that makes me a Great Uncle. I mean, I was always a great uncle, but this makes it official. Welcome to the family Easton!
Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!