Templo de Debod

Top choice ruins in Parque del Oeste & Northern Madrid

Image by kelvinjay Getty Images

Yes, that is an Egyptian temple in downtown Madrid. The temple was saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser built the Aswan High Dam. After 1968 it was sent block by block to Spain as a gesture of thanks to Spanish archaeologists in the Unesco team that worked to save the monuments that would otherwise have disappeared forever.

No matter which way you look at it, there’s something incongruous about finding the Templo de Debod in the Parque de la Montaña northwest of Plaza de España. Begun in 2200 BC and completed over many centuries, the temple was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes, about 20km south of Philae in the Nubian desert of southern Egypt. According to some authors of myth and legend, the goddess Isis gave birth to Horus in this very temple, although obviously not in Madrid.

The views from the surrounding gardens towards the Palacio Real are some of Madrid’s prettiest.