Medinet Habu: A sacred magical tour

Africa | | October 26, 2010 at 12:27 am


Nestled in Theban Necropolis at Luxor on the west bank of Nile, Medinet Habu refers to an extensive complex that is regarded as sacred and magical since the ancient times of the Pharaohs. Accessible after traveling for 4 miles from the Valley of the Kings, the complex is also called the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III. The area is so vast that it holds the second rank in terms of size after the top attraction of Temple of Karnak.

Medinet Habu

Despite the fact that the Valley of Kings exclusively has been given the right to hold the tombs of the great Egyptian pharaohs, it is also true that each great pharaoh also built their big mortuary temples to pay homage to the holy cult. This one is dedicated to Ramses III (1186-1155 BC) who was the Dynasty XX’s second ruler and that his tomb is no doubt in the valley numbered 11. Even today, this structure is so well preserved that it deserves much more beyond respect and wonder of the tourists.

Valley of Kings

As per the legend, the location of Medinet Habu was regarded very sacred even before the pharaoh to whom it is dedicated. Interestingly, even today, it is said to have miraculous energies as per the local farmers. This can be perhaps due to the fact that right from the early days; the idols of Amun, Khonsu, Mut, and other Egyptian deities were instilled here. As per the records, the sacred power of the Medinet Habu safely protected the population of Thebes during invasions, which was the indication of its power and glory. Just after this event, the Copic town of Djeme settled here inside the outer walls of Habu due to which you can see the remains of the Christian Church inside the Second Court. Wow! How exciting will it be to take a tour of this sacred structure!

Looking at the Main Facade on the southeast, it will seem like an irregular portico decorated with a branched sun disc. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, it bears the Ptolemaic Pylon to its right. To the portico’s left, the Migdol Gate reveals the amazed Ramses along with the two figurines of Sekhmet – the character who helped in carrying the prayers to Amun. Just go to the right of the gate and you will come across a Small Temple just before the Ramses’ temple. It is on the holy location where once the ancient mound arose from the Chaos waters leading to the creation of the god Re-Atum. Incompletely decorated by the Queen Hatshepsut who was the famous female pharaoh, there were images of her once here sadly ruined by her successor.

Migdol Gate

Across the temple to the left, the Chapels of the Votaresses are dedicated to votaresses who are the god Amun’s priestesses. Dedicated to Amenirdis who is the sister of King Shabaka, the forecourt and the shrine attract tourists for its notable reliefs. To the complex southeast, a Sacred Lake exists where the childless ladies used to pray as well as bathe at night for children. Their prayers were for the deity, Isis.

Medinet Habu sacred lake

The First Pylon shows reliefs of the fake episodes of Ramses overcoming the Syrians (right) and Nubians (left). Check out the inner wall revealing the genuine, but gaudy campaigns. Go ahead towards the left where a huge sculpture of Ramses scatters the Libyans while being on the chariot. From here, the first zone you enter is the First Court that until now was the abode of the Coptic-era mansions. It is decorated by the columns of which the right bears the Osiride Ramses III statues emphasized by the queens on his knees. The court’s left is affixed to the Royal Palace of the king.

The Second Pylon outside shows the reliefs where the king is escorting the six lines of hostages to the god Amun on the left and to the right, to Mut along with a big inscription. Then, just have a look at the ceiling adorned with the winged cobras and sun-discs. The Second Court is the home of the Church made by the Coptic folk who also discarded the pillars and coated mud on the reliefs. Finally, now they are uncovered to reveal the annual festivals of Min and Sokar. Behind the court is the roofless Hypostyle Hall with five chapels each of which is dedicated to Ramses III, Ptah, Sokar, Ramses II, and Osiris. To the opposite is the wall where the protected chambers of gems exist and where reliefs display the balancing of the valuables like gold.

Hypostyle Hall

Medinet Habu is also known for its superb views. Just be atop the mound in the southeast to have spectacular vista of the entire complex. Alternatively, you can enjoy the views from a hot-air balloon ride. The structure is opened daily for visit from 6 am to 5 pm in summer and 6 am to 4 pm in winter with an entry fee of £E20.

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