Abydos and Dendara – Road Trip

In the daytime before our evening flight to Sharm el Sheik. we went to see the two temples north of Luxor.


Abydos Temple is about 2 hours’ drive north of Luxor. Once again, sadly, in these less travelled areas because tourism is way down we were the only tourists in the temple at the time. The temple was built by Sethos I and finished and redesigned by his son Ramses II (The great pharoah). It has some very good condition wall carvings.

The front of the Abydos Temple, looking up into and through the ruins of the courtyard.

Behind the pillars along the front. This style had square pillars along the inside of the courtyard.

Inside the hypostyle hall; the soot from torches coating the roof is still visible.

Wall painting

More wall painting – another example of the faces and hands of “graven idols” chipped away by early Christians.

A small side chapel, likely a store room for temple offerings.

One of the chapels at the back of the temple. (Oddly, it is arched – this must be a rebuild in Roman times.)

Ramses II as a boy with hunting dog

Note that boys had most of their head shaved except for the lock of hair on the side. The Temple at Abydos, built by Ramses II’s father, is remarkable for showing Ramses as a boy. Normally the heir and successor may not be chosen this early and certainly not celebrated in wall decorations.

Another hunting scene with young Ramses and his father.

The wall carvings are deteriorating and difficult to make out – but this side corridor contains one of the few “King Lists” showing all the paroahs of Egypt up to Sethos I. (The embarrassing unmentionable ones like Ankhaten and his family were left out. ) Royal names – birth or ruling names – are enclosed in oval cartouches.

For every Egyptian ruin in good condition, there are many like this – a bunch of buried and scattered blocks.

The Cenotaph Temple of Ramses II, a few hundred meters from the Abydos Temple. Still being excavated.

Here is an oddity to excite you “Chariots of the Gods” fans. Nobody is sure what these heiroglyphics are meant to be – but they certainly do look like they include a tank, a helicopter, and two different jet aircraft. (Or maybe one is a UFO).

Abydos Wall Painting

Abydos Wall Painting

Abydos Wall Painting


The front of the temple at Dendara, the facade of the hypostyle

What remains of the main gateway.

Side building

A block carved with a fertility god.

One side building was used as a chapel in early Christian times.

Pillars in the hypostyle hall.

The columns and roof still have lively colours.

The disfigured and chipped face of Hathor, cow goddess, as a column topper.

Dendara Wall Relief

Dendara – Hypostyle Hall ceiling relief paintings

Dendara – Hypostyle Hall ceiling relief paintings

Wall carving

Roof decoration of Nut, godess of the heavens, bent over across to define the arc of the sky. In one corner the sun shines down its rays.

wall carving

Wall carving

Wall carving – birth story carving, the pharoah as a child fed by a goddess.

Wall carving

Stairway down from roof of temple. In Dendara Temple tourists are allowed to go up to the roof. The ascent is a winding (spiral) satirs that mimics the spiral ascent of the vultures often carved on ceilings; the stairway down is a long straight incline mimicking the vulture’s straight downward glide.

Stairway in back of temple

Top of Temple

Dendara – Hypostyle Hall ceiling relief paintings

Dendara – Hypostyle Hall ceiling relief paintings

Dendara – wall relief

On the roof of Dendara – behind the facade

Dendara – wall relief

Dendara – Hypostyle Hall ceiling relief paintings

    On The Road

View of a Coptic Monastery on the road to Luxor

Train Crossing

Accidents happen, even to Egyptian drivers. We passed this car on a tow truck flatbed.

Tut-tuts were common in the towns too.


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