Temple of Edfu

Being the largest temple dedicated to Horus and Hathor of Dendera, it was the center of several festivals sacred to Horus

Edfu, Aswan – Egypt

Coordinates: 24.977937, 32.873368

Also known as the Temple of Horus, it dates from 237 – 57 BC during the Ptolemaic Kingdom. During this time of relative prosperity, several Egyptian pharaohs added to the temple’s construction, making Edfu the largest temple dedicated to Horus. According to mythology, Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, was an important ancient deity known as the Sky God and God of Kingship, among others. Horus is usually shown with the face of a falcon and wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower.

Over the centuries, the temple became buried to a depth of 12 metres (39 ft) beneath drifting desert sand and layers of river silt deposited by the Nile. Local inhabitants built homes directly over the former temple grounds. Only the upper reaches of the temple pylons were visible by 1798, when the temple was identified by a French expedition. In 1860 Auguste Mariette, a French Egyptologist, began the work of freeing Edfu temple from the sands.

The temple of Edfu fell into disuse as a religious monument following Theodosius I’s persecution of pagans and edict banning non-Christian worship within the Roman Empire in 391.

As elsewhere, many of the temple’s carved reliefs were razed by followers of the Christian faith which came to dominate Egypt. The blackened ceiling of the hypostyle hall, visible today, is believed to be the result of arson intended to destroy religious imagery that was then considered pagan.

The Temple of Edfu is nearly intact and a very good example of an ancient Egyptian temple. The Its archaeological significance and high state of preservation has made it a centre for tourism in Egypt and a frequent stop for the many riverboats that cruise the Nile.

Know This

A tip for any traveler traversing the interior of the temple, have a torch at hand, as there are many interesting hieroglyphs that are hidden in darken areas. This temple was used after pharaonic times as a church by early Christians who added crucifixes and changed some of the reliefs to depict Christian beliefs.

The best way to visit the Temple of Horus is during a Nile Cruise whereby the ship will take you directly to Edfu. You arrive at the temple early in the morning to enjoy the privilege of being the only visitor in contact with the ancient civilization.

Taking a professional guide is a must since they will explain the purpose of different buildings within the large temple complex, show you the ancient Egyptian calendar and the well-preserved wooden solar ship of Horus. The temple is full of symbols worth careful exploration!