The Temple of Horus: Long History, Stunning Architecture, Astonishing Show and 6 Tips for the Trip!
Updated On: May 16, 2023
Situated on the Nile River’s west bank, halfway between Luxor and Aswan, lies the captivating city of Edfu, a gem steeped in ancient Egyptian history. Once known as Behdet in antiquity, Edfu is home to one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in Egypt—the Temple of Horus.
This magnificent structure stands as an emblem of Edfu’s rich historical narrative, offering a vibrant testament to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era. The city, once a flourishing hub of religious and economic activities, continues to echo the grandeur of its past.
Exploring Edfu offers an unparalleled journey through time, where every stone whispers tales of pharaohs, gods, and ancient rituals. If you want to delve into the mystique of ancient Egypt, a visit to Edfu is a must. Its unique blend of cultural heritage, archaeological wealth, and the timeless allure of the Nile make it an unmissable chapter in the compelling story that is Egypt.
The Importance of The Temple of Edfu
Anchoring the heart of Edfu is the majestic Temple of Horus, a well-preserved testament to the religious devotion and architectural prowess of the ancient Egyptians. Dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed deity who personified the sky and symbolised kingship, this temple served as an important centre for his worship.
Horus held a significant place in ancient Egyptian cosmology, often depicted as a protector and ruler of the land, embodying the pharaoh’s power and legitimacy. The ancient Egyptians celebrated Horus in grand festivals, filling the temple with offerings and prayers and performing sacred rites that reenacted his mythical battles.
The Temple of Horus, with its grandiose pylons, intricate carvings, and sacred spaces, encapsulates these traditions and rituals, offering visitors a deeply moving and tangible connection to the past. A visit to this temple opens a doorway into understanding the spiritual life and artistic expression of the ancient Egyptians, making it a truly invaluable experience.
Who is Horus?
Horus, one of the most significant deities in ancient Egyptian mythology, represents both the sky and kingship. Often depicted as a man with a falcon’s head or entirely as a falcon, his eyes symbolise the sun and the moon, reinforcing his celestial association.
He was born to Isis, the goddess of magic and motherhood, and Osiris, the god of the underworld, after a series of mythical events marked by treachery, death, and rebirth. Horus’ legendary battle with his uncle, Seth, to avenge his father’s death and claim the throne is a central theme in Egyptian mythology.
The Pharaohs considered the earthly embodiment of Horus, drew their legitimacy from this association. The Eye of Horus, or Wadjet, a symbol of protection, good health and royal power, is one of the widely-known symbols of ancient Egypt. Horus’ importance is highly reflected in the vast Temple of Horus in Edfu, a testament to his enduring veneration.
The architectural Side
The Temple of Horus in Edfu is exquisite evidence of the architectural brilliance of the Ptolemaic era. Majestically rising from the city’s heart, the temple is a grand structure that stretches over an impressive 40,000 square metres.
Its majestic entrance, flanked by two colossal statues of Horus standing 10 feet tall, invites you into a world of ancient splendour. The journey begins with the first pylon, a marvel of ancient engineering, its walls adorned with intricately carved reliefs depicting scenes of ancient battles and divine rituals.
Step into the Great Court, a vast, column-lined space that opens up to a hypostyle hall, where the pillars reach upwards to the heavens in an awe-inspiring display of ancient craftsmanship.
Further inside the sanctuary resides a sacred chamber that once housed the golden statue of Horus. The construction of this architectural marvel spanned over 180 years, a testament to the devotion and reverence the ancient Egyptians held for Horus.
Each stone, each carving, and each corner of this temple echo the grandeur of a civilisation that saw the divine in everything, making a visit to the Temple of Edfu in Aswan a journey not just through space but through time itself.
Who Does Horus Love?
Hathor, often depicted as a cow or a woman with cow ears, was one of the most beloved deities in ancient Egypt. She was a versatile goddess, representing love, beauty, motherhood, joy, and music.
Hathor was also recognised as the goddess of the sky and the celestial nurse who nourished the stars, thus holding a profound cosmic significance. An intriguing aspect of ancient Egyptian mythology is the complex relationship between Hathor and Horus.
In one narrative, Hathor is portrayed as Horus’s wife, symbolising the divine union of the sky (Hathor) and the earth (Horus). In another tale, Hathor is considered Horus’s mother, emphasising her nurturing and protective qualities.
This duality underscores the fluid nature of ancient Egyptian mythology, where gods and goddesses often held multiple roles and relationships, reflecting the multifaceted aspects of life and nature.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus is often associated with four semi-divine figures known as the “Four Sons of Horus,” who were believed to protect the organs of the deceased.
They include Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef, each safeguarding a specific organ and cardinal direction. However, it’s important to note that these ‘sons’ are not considered Horus’s biological offspring in the traditional sense.
The Sacred Falcon Yearly Coronation
In the city of Edfu, a special celebration, the ‘Feast of the Beautiful Meeting’, took place annually. This event celebrated the sacred marriage of Horus and his consort Hathor, symbolising their divine union and the cosmic harmony it brought. The highlight of this festival was the coronation of the sacred falcon, symbolising Horus, which was ceremonially crowned every year. This magnificent event usually occurred during the Egyptian month of Epiphi, roughly corresponding to June/July in the Gregorian calendar, drawing in crowds from all over Egypt to witness the sacred spectacle.
Edfu Temple Sound and Light Show
As you journey through Egypt’s rich historical display, the Sound and Light Show in Edfu at the Temple of Horus is a spectacle you simply cannot miss. As night falls, the temple, one of Egypt’s best-preserved ancient monuments, springs to life under the glow of meticulously crafted light displays, showcasing its architectural grandeur in an entirely new dimension.
You’ll be entranced as the powerful narratives of Horus and ancient Egyptian mythology echo around you, delivered through an impeccable sound system that ensures a truly immersive experience.
The show is thoughtfully designed to cater to an international audience, offering narrations in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and more.
Typically, the experience starts after sunset and lasts for about an hour, a magical 60 minutes that promise to leave you spellbound.
Ticket prices are reasonably set, allowing you to witness this incredible spectacle without breaking the bank. So, come and step into a time machine that will take you back to the pharaohs’ and gods’ era for a night you’ll remember forever.
Other Nearby Monument You Don’t Want to Miss
Being in Aswan is a great opportunity to visit other important monuments, such as the Tombs of El Kab.
Tombs of El Kab
Nestled in the city of Edfu, Egypt, the Tombs of El Kab beckon travellers with their historical allure. Discovered in 1937 by a Belgian expedition, this archaeological treasure is a testimony to Egypt’s antiquity.
Honouring its Belgian connection, Queen Matilda and her daughter Elizabeth graced the site with their royal presence in March 2023. The tombs, carved into limestone cliffs, house an array of fascinating artefacts, exquisite frescoes, and hieroglyphics that narrate stories of ancient nobles.
A Luxurious Sojourn in Edfu
When visiting the ancient marvel of the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt, there is no shortage of luxurious accommodations nearby that cater to all tastes and budgets.
For a taste of classic elegance, the Edfu Hotel offers rooms starting at $90 per night. This well-appointed establishment is just a stone’s throw from the temple, and its rooftop terrace boasts panoramic views of the city and the Nile River.
For a more intimate experience, consider Beit Sabee Boutique Hotel. With room prices starting at around $120 per night, this boutique hotel merges traditional aesthetics with modern comforts.
The Cleopatra Hotel Edfu, with rooms from $70 per night, provides comfortable accommodation without breaking the bank. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of the Temple of Horus.
If you seek a truly immersive Nile experience, consider a cruise. The Oberoi Zahra Luxury Nile Cruiser offers an all-inclusive journey starting at $400 per person per night. Their suites offer unmatched river views and access to world-class amenities.
The Movenpick MS Royal Lily, starting from $250 per person per night, is another excellent choice. This ship provides the perfect blend of luxury and comfort, with stunning views of the Nile from every cabin.
So, whether you fancy a luxurious cruise along the Nile or prefer the convenience of a city hotel, the perfect base for your Temple of Horus adventure awaits.
Essential Tips Before Visiting:
- When visiting the awe-inspiring Temple of Edfu, remember to pack sunscreen, as the Egyptian sun can be intense.
- Modest clothing is recommended, respecting the local culture.
- The best visiting times are early morning or late afternoon when it’s cooler and less crowded.
- Don’t miss the vibrant Souk of Edfu, a nearby bazaar, for traditional souvenirs like spices, handcrafted jewellery and Egyptian cotton. The Souk is also an excellent place to sample local delicacies.
- To make the most of your tour, consider hiring a local guide for an informative visit.
- Finally, remember to carry water to stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes for exploring.
Enjoy the magic and mystery of Edfu, where each corner holds a new piece of ancient history waiting to be discovered.