The Temple of Horus in the city of Edfu was once forgotten to time under the sands of Egypt. Due to this, the resurrected site is one of the best preserved of its period and a stunning example of what worship looked like in ancient Egypt. Dedicated to Horus, god of kingship and the sky, it is categorized by stunning 36-meter decorated sandstone gates and includes a wide courtyard and detailed inner sanctum. The temple itself is referred to in Latin as “Apollonopolis Magna,” as Horus was identified as Apollo by the Greeks.
The temple is also dedicated to Hathor, a mother or partner to both Horus and the sun god Ra. It was said that Hathor would leave her own temple in Dendera to visit Horus in Edfu every year, which marked a major annual festival. Like Horus, Hathor was one of the most worshiped gods of the Egyptian pantheon, as she was strongly linked to the pharaohs by her sons or partners who represented their right of rule.
Construction of the site began in 237 BC but was not completed until 57 BC under Ptolemy XII – a show of the strength and lasting power of the pharaohs of this period. The Ptolemaic kingdom was the last of Egypt’s ancient dynasties, continuing until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. The larger building sits on the ruins of an even more ancient temple dedicated to Horus whose construction dates back to Ramses I, who ruled around 1292-1290 BC. A fallen pylon found east of the temple is part of the original structure.
The temple complex contains a treasure trove of historical structures. The giant gateway is adorned with two statues of Horus as a falcon and decorated with giant battle scenes depicting Ptolemaic pharaohs smiting their enemies as offerings to Horus. Inside the temple, a second antechamber dedicated to the god of kings once contained a bronze statue of Horus that was once plated in gold. The original is now on display at the Louvre in Paris. The same room contains a replica of a wooden boat that would be used to carry the statue in processions during festivals. An incredibly well preserved Nilometer, which was used to measure the level of the Nile and predict the coming harvest, can also be found on the eastern enclosure wall.