We left Cairo and flew to Luxor located in the middle of Egypt along the Nile River. We scheduled a 4 day Nile River cruise starting in Luxor that made stops along the river to visit the temples on our way to Aswan in southern Egypt. Below is a sampling of several of the sites we visited.
One thing to mention is that the cruise boat was very well organized. Of the 60 people on board we were divided into groups of about 12 people, (it was also based on the language you spoke) and assigned a tour guide for the entire trip. We were very lucky in that we got a wonderful tour guide, another Egyptologist and our group clicked from the very beginning which made for a wonderful time visiting the sites.
The first site we went to was the Karnack Temple Complex, made up of a mix of temples, chapels and pylons. The building started around 2055BC and continued to 330BC. During those 2000 years over thirty pharaohs used this very important religious site, continually adding to the complex. It is now a vast open air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. One of the most famous features is the Hypostyle Hall, it covers 54,000 sq feet, has 134 massive columns, 32 to 39 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. Putting it on the map link, zoom out to view the fertile irrigated farm land that turns into desert.
Luxor Temple just a mile from Karnack is another large complex. There were original two obelisks at the entrance, one now stand in Paris at the Place de la Concorde. This temple was the focus of the annual Opet Festival, a month long celebration after the harvest. The festival was centered around fertility, renewal of the land, renewal of the pharaohs, and most importantly renewal of the gods. Over time the temple complex was abandoned, and after a thousand years, the crumbling temples produced an artificial hill of rubble fifty feet high covering three quarters of the temple. Once it was rediscovered it took a hundred year of excavation to realize what had been found . Found in the last 15 years was an avenue linking Karnack and Luxor temples lined with sphinxes decorated with human heads.
The Dendera Temple complex was built starting around 2250BC. It is another large complex that covers 40,000 square meters. The Temple of Hathor built around 330BC is one of the best, if not the best preserved temple in all of Egypt. There are depictions of Cleopatra on the temple walls. Hathor was an Ancient Egyptian goddess who represented the principles of joy, feminine love and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular goddess throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. She was commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns. It was said that during these times to call your wife a cow was considered a complement.