The Karnak is actually a complex of many temples and other
buildings. The site was added by Pharaohs
in more than 2000 years. The largest of the complex is the
To the south is the Mut
temple enclosure which is connected to the Amun temple via
an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes.
To the north is the Montu
Amun temple enclosure:
The temple is accessible through a processional way bordered
by ram-headed sphinxes to the west (See Image 1), which takes
you to the first great pylon probably built by King Nectanebo
I of the 30th
dynasty. It is unfinished though.
The court (See Image 2) beyond the first pylon has a northern
shrine built by Seti
II with 3 chapels dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun,
Mut and Khonsu.
In the south lies the small temple of Ramesses
III (See Image 3). A northern small doorway in the court
leads to an open-air museum with a number of monuments on
The court is adorned by eight columns to the north. The
second pylon is probably the work of Horemheb. Beyond is the
Hall that is an imposing part of the temple (See Image 4).
The hall has 12 central massive columns and other smaller
122 columns. It was once roofed. It is built by Ramesses
I and Ramesses
The third pylon is built by Amenhotep
III. Behind the pylon there were once four obelisks,
of which only one built by Thutmose
I (a.k.a. Thutmosis in Greek) stands (see Image 5).
Next is the fourth pylon which marks that start of the temple
proper. The fourth and fifth pylons are built by Thutmose
The court in between them had once 14 pillars. One of the
pair of obelisks raised by Hatshepsut
is still standing here while the other one lies broken on
ground. The next sixth small pylon is in ruins.
The temple has several rooms including the sacred barque
sanctuary, a central court, Botanic gardens (See Image 7),
a festival hall built by Thutmose
III and a sanctuary decorated by Alexander
the Great (See Image 6). The largest obelisk in the world,
known as the Lateran obelisk, once stood here and but ended
up in Rome.
The southern axis runs from in between third and fourth pylons
of the main axis to the south. The axis acted as a processional
way that finally leads to the southern Mut temple enclosure
through an avenue of sphinxes. This section of the temple
has 4 more pylons and is surrounded by walls to form series
The court located just before the seventh pylon is called
the cachette court (See Image 8). In this place several thousands
of bronze and stone statues were discovered in 1903.
Some of them are currently on display in the Egyptian
museum in Cairo. Thutmose III built the seventh pylon
while the eighth was built by Queen Hatshepsut. The ninth
and tenth were built by Horemheb.
To the east of the Amun temple southern axis lies the sacred
lake used by priests for ablution.
To the northwest of the lake is a large scarab
statue and further north a fallen obelisk once erected by
Hatshepsut lies broken on ground.
Temples of Khonsu and Opet:
There are a number of other monuments included in the Amun
temple enclosure. On the southwest corner there are two temples
dedicated to Khonsu (See Image 9) and Opet (See Image 10).
Khonsu temple was started by Ramesses III and added/decorated
by other Pharaohs including Herihor
I. The pylon of Khonsu temple is facing the avenue of
sphinxes that once led to the Luxor
temple. The avenue passes through a gateway built by Ptolemy
III Euergetes I.
Temple of Ptah:
The small temple lies to the north of the Amun temple (See
Image 11). It was built by Thutmose III and enlarged by Shabaka.
Montu temple enclosure:
The temple is to the north of Amun temple and its access is
near to the temple of Ptah. Montu temple was built by Amenhotep
III and dedicated to the local deity of Montu, the warrior-god.
Mut temple enclosure:
The temple is south of the Amun temple and is connected to
it by an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes that runs to the tenth
pylon. The ruined temple is also built by Amenhotep III and
added by several rulers. The temple is surrounded by a crescent-shape
Sound and light:
The sound and light show starts at the first pylon and moves
on to the Hypostyle Hall and then to the sacred lake where
there are seats for the spectators. The show briefly narrates
the Theban history in a magnificent way.