Monument sights in Luxor
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The two faceless Colossi of Memnon that rise majestically about 18m from the plain are the first monuments tourists see when they visit the West Bank. The enthroned figures have kept a lonely vigil on the changing landscape, and few visitors have any idea that these giants were only a tiny element of the largest temple ever built in Egypt, Amenhotep III's memorial temple, believed to have covered an area larger than Karnak.
The pharaoh's memorial temple has now all but disappeared. It was built largely of mud brick on the flood plain of the Nile, where it was flooded every year. The walls simply dissolved after it was abandoned and no longer maintained, and later pharaohs…
At the northern end of the Theban necropolis lies the Temple of Seti I. Seti I (1294-1279 BC), who also built the superbly decorated temple at Abydos and Karnak's magnificent hypostyle hall, died before this memorial temple was finished, so it was completed by his son Ramses II. The temple sees few visitors, despite its picturesque location near a palm grove and recent restoration, after it was severely damaged by torrential rain and floods in 1994.
The entrance is through a small door in the northeast corner of the reconstructed fortresslike enclosure wall. The first and second pylon and the court are in ruins, but recent excavations have revealed the foundations of the…
Almost directly behind Amenhotep's temple, lie the remains of the Temple of Merneptah, who succeeded his father Ramses II in 1213 BC and ruled for 10 years. In the 19th century, the 'Israel Stele', now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, was found here, which was the only Egyptian text to mention 'Israel' (which Merneptah claimed to have defeated). The Swiss Institute in Egypt has done considerable work here, uncovering the temple's original plan and a large number of statues and reliefs.
At the small museum near the entrance, the history of the temple is illustrated with text, plans and finds from excavations, a great help to understand the little that remains of the…