In some parts of the world, ruins and derelict places bear extraordinary appeal that it overshadows the products of modernization and technology. Egypt, for one, is proud of its decayed temples, pylons, chapels and buildings. Egypt’s vast mix of neglected structures is known to the world as Temple of Karnak or Karnak Temple Complex. Found on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes (now Luxor), the place is famous in itself as the “world’s greatest open air museum” that stands right in the middle of the bustling, modern city.
The Temple of Karnak covers a vast land of 200 acres, so huge that the size of other ancient cities fails in comparison. In fact, the entire complex can house ten European cathedrals. The largest space of the Temple Complex is dedicated to Amun-Ra, the ultimate god of ancient Egypt hailed as “The God of Kings and King of Gods.” The main sanctuary is known as Hypostyle Hall or “Ipet-Sun” which means “the most selected place.” The hall has an area of 50,000 sq. meters and comprises of 16-row massive columns. 122 of these columns are 10 meters tall while the other 12 are 21 meters high. All 134 columns are topped by 70-tons architraves believed to have been lifted using levers.
Equally hailed during the ancient times is Amun-Ra’s wife, Mut the Goddess, and the south of the Karnak Temple is dedicated to her. A precinct for the falcon-headed God of War Montu is also part of the complex. In every turn and corner, there are precincts characterized by unfinished pillars indicating how the Temple of Karnak could have been finished. All Egyptian temples are represented by a sacred lake, and the lake of the Karnak Temple is no doubt the biggest.
The size, complexity and diversity of the Temple of Karnak can be attributed to some factors. For one, the length of the time of construction of the complex is extremely long—from the Middle Kingdom up to Ptolemaic times. Further, the construction and use of the complex was participated by over thirty pharaohs, and their varied influences, tastes, and preferences made the Karnak Temple’s features and character overwhelming.
The Temple of Karnak is not only known to be the dwelling place of Egypt’s ancient gods. Tagged as the “mother of all religious buildings,” the complex has been serving as a place of pilgrimage for the past 4,000 years. In the most recent times, tourists comprise most of the pilgrims held in the Karnak Temple. The economy of Luxor City greatly depends on tourism, and thanks to the Karnak Temple Complex which heavily attracts visitors all over the world, the masterplan of new roads, transport terminals, fashionable shops, trendy restaurants and five-star hotels is on its way.