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The temples were built to honor a gods and had a similar design, even though most evolved and expanded over the centuries.  Outside the temple was a large courtyard where the common people worshiped and offered sacrificial animals.  The front of the temple was a large wall, called a pylon, with a relatively small entrance.  Inside the pylon was a central room with huge pillars and smaller rooms on either side.  Beyond the central room there sometimes was another room with pillars, which led to the sanctuary, where an image of the temple god stood.  Only the high priest and King were allowed in the sanctuary. 

Throughout the temple, on walls and pillars are reliefs depicting conquests, relationships with and among gods, festivals, etc.  Originally in splendid color, now the color is visible only where the temple was buried in sand for centuries and other places void of light.

We visited the Luxor temple at night, the very large Karnak temple, and the temple at Abu Simbel.  The temple at Abu Simbel was built during the reign of Ramses II, who has images of himself all over it, including four identical statues of him at the front pylon.

Most impressive was their size and their beautifully carved reliefs on walls and pillars.


Entrance to the Luxor temple at night.


Hugh pillars inside the Luxor temple.

Our excellent guide, Muse, explaining hieroglyphs.  If only we could remember half of what he told us.

The temple at Abu Simbel was originally carved into a hill near the Nile, but was remarkably moved to higher ground before the Aswan dam reservoir flooded the region.


The above picture (the fallen crown of Ramses II) and the one to the left indicate the enormous size of the figures.

The pedestal in the sanctuary of the temple at Philae that once held the likeness of the temple god Isis.  It later centuries was used for Christian rituals - note the cross.

Columns inside the temple.


The original hieroglyphics color preserved over 3,500 years because it was protected from the sun at the bottom of this lintel.