Queen Hatshepsut Temple is a mortuary temple located near the Valley of the Kings, and it is today considered to be one of the great wonders of Ancient Egypt.
Hatshepsut Temple is without question one of the most striking ancient attractions in all of Egypt. In fact, it is one of only a handful of Egyptian attractions that are considered to be “incomparable monuments of Egypt” and many historians also refer to it as being one of the Wonders of Ancient Egypt.
Visitors to Luxor in upper Egypt will find this magnificent temple located below the rocky cliffs at Deir El Bahari, just a short distance away from the infamous Valley of the Kings, on the Luxor West Bank of the Nile River. From the moment the temple comes into view, it becomes very obvious that Queen Hatshepsut, an 18th dynasty pharaoh, wanted a temple that was well and truly fit for a queen.
A Brief History Of Hatshepsut Temple
Queen Hatshepsut ruled Egypt during the 18th dynasty, and she ruled the country longer than any other indigenous female pharaoh. She was also a very successful pharaoh that preferred peace rather than warfare. While she did see some warfare during the early stages of her rule, eventually her reign ushered in an era of extended piece. She also re-established trading relationships and increased the wealth of Egypt, allowing the Egypt to introduce a higher caliber of architecture, the likes of which remained incomparable worldwide for hundreds of years.
During her reign, Queen Hatshepsut assigned a woman by the name Senemut to create what would become one of Egypt’s greatest temples ever built. Senemut was officially the queen’s royal steward and architect of the temple, and according to some theorists, she might also have been Hatshepsut’s lover.
Hatshepsut temple was essentially constructed for Hatshepsut’s post-death worship, but also for the glory of Amen-Ra, an Egyptian god. The temple is built spread out over a series of colonnaded terraces that are accessible via long ramps, and in the past the entire area was surrounded by landscaped gardens and extravagant statues and other decorations.
Visiting Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple
While visitors to Hatshepsut temple today won’t see finely manicured gardens and the like, they will still see a pristine ancient temple that has clearly managed to stand the test of time. Most ornaments and other decorations have long since been moved into museums, but the temple is still home to many fascinating antiquities.
Visitors that are able to visit the temple on the 21st or 22nd of December will be in for a real treat, particularly if they get to the temple early enough to see the sunrise. Every year, these dates represent the winter solstice, and Queen Hatshepsut’s architect aligned the temple in such a way so as to take advantage of this.
During the winter solstice, sunlight is able to penetrate the inside of the inner chapel, falling first on the chapel’s rear wall, and then moving across slowly to illuminate a large statue of Osiris. There is also an additional light box that allows a square of light to follow the temple’s central axis. As it travels along the axis, it first illuminates a statue of the god Amen-Ra, then a kneeling statue of King Thutmose III, and then finally a statue of Hapi the Nile god.
Because the temple is one of Egypt’s most famous and most visited attractions, and certainly one of the most famous attractions in Luxor, it is almost always featured in our Egypt package tours that include spending some time in Luxor. Nearly all of our Nile cruise packages also include a visit to Queen Hatshepsut’s temple because it is well and truly one attraction you really don’t want to miss.