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Hatshepsut temple

Marvels of Ancient Architecture: Exploring Hatshepsut Temple

The Temple of Hatshepsut is the mortuary temple of one of the essential female pharaohs in the history of Egypt and one of the most important monuments seen in Luxor.

That is, in ancient Thebes, which was the capital of Egypt for about 500 years, during the period we know as the New Kingdom.

Hatshepsut Temple is the most beautiful thing you will see. This building consists of more than one floor. It was built along the limestone cliffs behind the Nile Valley.

To be precise, it is located under the cliffs of Deir el-Bahri, on the west bank of the Nile, near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, opposite Luxor. Its unique design reflects the personality of the pharaoh who built it.

The place where Hatshepsut is buried is called Djoser Gesseru, which means “saint among the saints.” Hatshepsut was different from almost all other pharaohs because she was a woman.

She was the second woman after Queen Nefersobek of the Twelfth Dynasty to hold the position of pharaoh. She was one of the few women in the history of Egypt who did so.

It is a semi-excavated temple. This aspect was unusual at the time. Indeed. The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut has become an engineering marvel for the ancient builders. Now we consider it one of the most famous structures of ancient Egyptian architecture.

Hatshepsut Temple Location

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is located in Upper Egypt under the cliffs of “Deir el-Bahri,” a name derived from the ancient monastery built during the Coptic era, about 17 miles northwest of Luxor on the west bank of the river in western Thebes. , the critical capital of Egypt during the New Egyptian Kingdom.

It is located next to the Funerary Temple of Mentuhotep II. Mark the Valley of the Kings entrance, which you can visit during your luxury tours in Egypt.

Who were Hatshepsut and the kingdom of Queen Hatshepsut?

Hatshepsut is considered one of the three greatest pharaohs in the history of Egypt. Queen Hatshepsut, a wife of Pharaoh Thermoses II, came to power after the death of her husband because Thutmose III (the son of Thutmose I, but not Hatshepsut) was at that time just a child.

Hatshepsut ruled for 22 years. After his death, Thutmose III finally came to power. However, the new pharaoh saw that all the inscriptions referring to his stepmother were removed from the Temple of Hatshepsut and other temples.

For this reason, part of the various inscriptions and decorations of the Temple of Hatshepsut has been lost forever. Fortunately, those who refer to Hatshepsut as a goddess (either Hathor or Osiris) have not been eliminated and have come down to our days.

Kingdom of Queen Hatshepsut

During the New Kingdom, Hatshepsut became queen after the death of her father, Thutmose I, and her half-brother and husband, Thutmose II, who took the throne after the first. At first, he took the throne as regent for his wife’s son, but Thutmose III, the son of another wife, took over after him.

Thutmose III was only two years old when he came to the throne. However, Hatshepsut managed to stay at the head of the kingdom and retain power until his death because she was brilliant and good at politics.

The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amun-Ra. It is close to the Temple of Mentuhotep II. In the past, both temples were considered great places to get ideas and, later, to get materials for new projects. People say Hatshepsut Temple is one of the “unparalleled monuments of ancient Egypt.”

Hatshepsut fame

Statues of the ruler, who usually wore the headdress worn only by male pharaohs, are well known. Hatshepsut’s fame comes not only from the fact that she was the only female sovereign able to obtain so much power and stay in power in Egypt but also from the fact that she was a good ruler during her reign.

This is shown in her pictures in the temple built in her honor. Queen Pharaoh also ordered the construction of several temples, including the Karnak Temple.

Funerary temple statue of Hatshepsut

The temple was in ruins when it was found in the middle of the nineteenth century. This was mainly because Thutmose III had destroyed it repeatedly, probably to get back at his stepmother’s memory. The site was turned into a monastery in the first century AD, which led to its decline.

Because of this, much work was done to fix the temple in the 20th century. Most current columns are not original, and some important frescoes have not been recovered sufficiently. Because of this, the temple can be a letdown, especially since it is a well-known tourist spot.

The birth legend was one of the essential parts of Hatshepsut’s propaganda, which she used to prove that she deserved to be in charge. The details of her legendary birth were put on the temple walls in massive pictures, and this was done to prove that she had every right to be on the throne.

When you put the pictures and words of this beautifully illustrated myth on each other, you can feel the devotion with which Amun, the god who protected the dynasty and was said to be Hatshepsut’s birth father, would have called her from above his power to rule.

Architecture and Interior Design

Hatshepsut Temple

The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahri, whose facade is at least 40 meters wide, is carved into the rock. The main architectural feature of this massive building is three terraces located one above the other, each containing an open courtyard, pillared rooms, and temples hidden deep in the mountain.

The so-called slopes are the link that unites the layers into a single whole. These ramps served as stairs and divided the temple into two equal parts – the southern and the northern.

Previously, various plants were planted on these terraces, and entire ponds were built. However, there is no trace of it, as well as from the vast T-shaped pools and the massive and strange garden in front of the entrance to the sanctuary.

But the snow-white columns, made of local sandstone, have been perfectly preserved, and their symmetry and grandeur resemble even the most ancient Dorian columns.

Once upon a time, a long alley led to the slope of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, starting in the desert on the border with cultivated fields. The majestic tower marked the beginning of the path, and people walking along this path could enjoy the view of the myrtle trees brought from Punt, and the sculptural images of the Sphinxes, personifying the god Osiris in the guise of Hatshepsut.

The lower terrace of the Temple of Hatshepsut

The lower floor of the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Luxor is surrounded by a mighty wall decorated with huge bird figures. At the end of this structure, you can see an entrance with 22 columns, in the middle of which towered statues of lions and monuments to the queen herself, who “posed” both in an ordinary tight-fitting dress and luxurious ceremonial attire.

The images decorating the walls of this tier tell not only about the construction work taking place here and the delivery of stone blocks along the Nile but also about numerous military campaigns and battles. Immediately, images of anacondas and falcons are full of ideas that embody Horus and Wadjet, the leading guardians of both parts of Egypt.

Central terrace of the Temple of Hatshepsut

As seen in the photo of Hatshepsut’s temple in Deir el-Bahri, the entrance of the middle tier consists of 12-columned halls and many internal enfilades that extend into the same thickness as the rock. The door leading inside the galleries is made of black copper and inlaid with precious metals. The rooms themselves contain many items of not only material but also historical value.

The reliefs of this floor tell about the most important deeds of the female pharaoh, including the fateful journey to Punt (modern Somalia). According to the information in official documents, the expedition equipped by the pharaoh was so large-scale and frightening that the island’s inhabitants almost without hesitation recognized themselves as subjects of Egypt.

The events of those days are depicted with such accuracy and thoroughness that even now, in the ancient rock paintings, one can easily see the fleet of the Egyptian sovereign, the features of the local landscape, and the figure of the king, bringing gold jewelry, incense, valuable tree species, animal skins, and several dozen enslaved people.

In addition, here you can see scenes dedicated to the divine marriage of the god Amun and Queen Ahmes, the parents of the famous ruler. Several sphinxes and two spacious chapels are also built opposite the terrace.

One of them is dedicated to the guide to the world of the dead, Nile Valley, and the second is Hathor Imentet, which in ancient Egypt was considered the main symbol of beauty, motherhood, femininity, and fertility. The walls of this basilica are painted with images of a pharaoh woman drinking healing milk from the udder of a sacred cow. The columns’ capitals are painted with the deity’s gilded faces, facing in different directions.

The upper terrace of Hatshepsut’s Temple

The upper tier of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahri (Luxor) served as the primary religious ritual. At the time of its foundation, the entrance to the portico was guarded by majestic statues of the queen, who accompanied visitors in numerous underground halls. There were at least two hundred of them. Moreover, each monument here personified the ruler in 3 images – the sphinx, the pharaoh, and Osiris. Many statues have been restored and moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

On both sides of the central courtyard of the third terrace are two important sanctuaries – the parents of the pharaoh and Amon-Ra, considered almost the main pride of the entire temple complex. This building was crowned with a giant portrait of the queen, made in the form of a sphinx. Unfortunately, after the death of Hatshepsut, it was destroyed, but during her lifetime, it could be seen even from ships sailing along the Nile.

The interior decoration is replete with gold, silver, bronze, alabaster, ebony, and other valuable materials that finish the floors and create various interior items.

Interesting facts about the Temple of Hatshepsut

The Temple of Hatshepsut at Del Bahri still holds many mysteries that will likely remain unsolved. Meanwhile, the best scientists in the world are puzzled by the secrets of this sacred place. Here are some facts from what we know:

When the power in the country returned to Thutmose III, he did everything to ensure that the memory of the great ruler disappeared forever. At that time, statues, bas-reliefs of a female pharaoh, and rock inscriptions containing any mention of her name in the temple were erased and destroyed. The central part of the sculptures was buried near the sanctuary and was found during regular archaeological excavations.

At about the same time, next to the images of the god Ra, the faces of great healers appeared, and people who believed in the holiness of this place were healed from a wide variety of ailments. To this day, the walls of the complex keep prayers for healing and deliverance from torment.

Murals on the walls
The consecration of the god Anubis in the temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Egypt) consisted of two chapels – in the lower and upper tiers. Why exactly two are not known for sure, one can only guess that in this way, the Queen emphasized the unique role of the “guardian of the scales” in every person’s life.

Pictures of Senmut himself are often found on the walls of Jeser Jeser, but you have to be very careful to look at them. The central part of the images is located near the doorways, so they are hidden behind an open door every time.

The famous Egyptian architect had another rather bold idea. He built his tomb to stay close to the holy place he had created. But since the balcony, which the architect desired, belonged to the supreme deity, Hatshepsut considered this an encroachment on the sacred ground. For this reason, the work on the tomb was not completed.

Although the Temple of Hatshepsut is a monument, the Queen is buried in a large crypt near this place. They even tried to connect it to the Sacred Sanctuary at once through a unique underground passage, but whether it existed was still unknown.

About the author

Egypt Planners Team is a highly experienced travel agency specializing in memorable trips to Egypt. The team comprises expert travel planners and tour guides with a deep knowledge of Egypt's history, culture, and top tourist destinations.