Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city today known as Luxor and was founded in 1400 BCE. The temple is one of the best preserved of all of the ancient monuments with large amounts of the structure, statuary and relief carvings still intact, making it one of the most impressive visits in the Luxor area and all of Egypt.
Adding significantly to its allure is the juxtaposition that its setting provides. The modern city begins on one side and the Nile drifts by on the other. The statuary and carvings that decorate the temple today mainly feature Ramesses II.
Luxor Temple, along with the temple complex of Karnak, are the most famous temple complexes around Luxor and they are both located on the East Bank of the Nile. In ancient times an avenue of sphinxes that ran the entire 3 kilometers between them to connect the two sites.
Luxor temple was built with sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila area, which is located in south-western Egypt. This sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila region is referred to as Nubian Sandstone.
The Luxor Temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of the cult of the Royal Ka, Amun, Mut, and Khonsu and was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple to stay there for a while, with his consort Mut, in a celebration of fertility whence its name.
However, other studies at the temple by the Epigraphic Survey team present a completely new interpretation of Luxor and its great annual festival (the Feast of Opet). They have concluded that Luxor is the temple dedicated to the divine Egyptian ruler or, more precisely, to the cult of the Royal Ka.
The original part of the Temple of Luxor consisted of a large peristyle court and a complex of halls and chambers beyond. In one hall is a granite shrine of Alexander the Great. The great peristyle forecourt is surrounded on three sides by a double row of graceful papyrus-cluster columns, their capitals imitating the umbels of the papyrus plant in bud.
An entrance flanked by the towers of a pylon was planned for the north end, but this design was altered, and, instead, the most striking feature of the temple, a majestic colonnade of 14 pillars, 52 feet (16 metres) high, was added.
This colonnade, which also has papyrus-umbel capitals, may have been intended for the central nave of a hypostyle hall similar to that at Karnak, but the side aisles were not built; instead, enclosing walls were built down either side.
Luxor, together with other Theban sites—Karnak, the Valley of the Queens, and the Valley of the Kings—was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Excavations and preservation efforts have been ongoing.
The outer courtyard at Luxor is known as the courtyard of Ramsses II. The outer courtyard is a common feature of many of the temple complexes and some temples contained multiple courtyards. Courtyards were decorated with statues and reliefs depicting the pharaoh and commemorating his reign.