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The Temple Of Esna

Esna is about 485 miles (776 kilometers) south of Cairo and lies on the west bank of the Nile. It was the ancient city of Senat, called Latopolis by the Greeks. It was "the city of the fish" where the Nile perch fish was worshipped as divine. Today it is very famous for its river barrage and as a result, it is a stopover for many cruise boats. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the center of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat through the local market.

 

The temple is dedicated to the ram-headed god Khnum, the god of creation. Tuthmosis III laid the foundations of the Temple in the 18th Dynasty, but Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors completed it between 40 to 250 A.D., and their names are recorded all over the temple walls.

 

esna temple

 

The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns with 24 pillars beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. The walls are covered with 4 rows of reliefs, showing Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes, sacrificing to the God of the Temple. There are chambers on both sides of the temple entrance that were used by the priests and keepers of the temple as storerooms.

 

Flanking the entrance to each room, you will notice Emperor Trajan, carried in a litter by six Priests, with jackal and hawk masks of the gods.

The most interesting scenes in this temple are the ones you will find on the roof, which is decorated with astronomical representations. On the left side of the gateway of the Temple, you can see the sky Goddess Nut, the Dog Star, Orion's belt, and Alpha Draconis (or the Dragon Star).

 

On the western wall of the façade of the Temple, you can see the God Horus, God of victory, and the God Khnum, dragging a net full of fish from the Nile, as well as reliefs of birds. Significantly at the foot of this representation is the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded, completed by the Roman Emperor Dios in 250 A.D.

 

khenoum

 

To reach the Temple you have to descend a long flight of steps, but be careful, they are very steep! The admission fee is EGP 35 ($1.95 USD).

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