The Colossi of Memnon are two colossal statues that are located on the west bank of the Nile River near the modern-day city of Luxor. They stand guarding what was once a mortuary temple that was built Pharaoh Amenhotep III in the ancient city of Thebes. Visit these two timeless giant structures with one of our flawless Egypt tour packages.
When travelers plan a visit to the fascinating city of Luxor in Egypt, they soon discover that the city is divided into two halves. This is of course because the Nile River runs through the center of the city, thus creating a West Bank and an East Bank. If you intend visiting the area, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with regard to the locations of the various attractions in Luxor because both the East Bank and the West Bank have many.
Colossi of Memnon – Simply Monumental
If you want to explore the famous Karnak Temples and Luxor Temple, you will find yourself on the eastern bank of the river. Be warned though because these particular sites, and especially Karnak, is quite vast, and many tourists spend at least one or two days on that side of the river. The West Bank on the other hand is where you find the ancient home to the capital city of Thebes, and it is on this side that you will also find the famous Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and several other historical sites.
One of the more interesting sites on the West Bank, and the one which is usually the first to greet visitors entering the Theban necropolis, are the two gigantic statues known as the the Colossi of Memnon. The Theban necropolis was once the main burial ground for the capital city of Thebes. The Colossi of Memnon consists of two giant statues in a seated position, with each one being around 75 feet tall. They were created by Amenhotep III in order to guard his funerary temple, and they actually represent the pharaoh, his wife, and his mother.
A Brief History of the Memnon Statues
Pharaoh Amenhotep III ruled during the 14th century BC, and during his rule he constructed what was then the grandest temple complex of all other pharaohs. Historians quite rightly point out that the mortuary temple of King Amenhotep III it was one of the largest temples ever built, and that if it still existed it would be even larger and more impressive than the massive Karnak temple complex across the river.
Today, however, all that remains of the of the mortuary complex are only the shattered remains of the severely damaged Colossi of Memnon that stand where the vast complex once existed. The annual flooding of the Nile, along with the plundering of later pharaohs and conquerors, are the primary causes behind the loss of the complex. The Colossi of Memnon itself has been damaged by both nature and man.
The statues were made of blocks of sandstone believed to have been quarried near Giza or at El Gabel Al Ahmar, and then transported hundreds of miles to Thebes. They are meant to represent Amenhotep III himself, and show him seated facing towards the river.
During the ages, the Colossi have been given many different names, with some even being a bit affectionate, such as the local alteration of the Arabic words for “left” and “right” – Shammy and Tammy. The two enormous statues, also known as the “singing statues” due to a mysterious sound which they sometimes emit at dawn.
The two monumental stone statues are differentiated by the appearance of different carvings and figures on their bases. The northern statue shows the pharaoh with his mother, while the southern statue shows the pharaoh with his wife.
Visiting The Colossi of Memnon
Visiting the Colossi of Memnon is free of charge, and most tour operators and travel guides recommend visiting the site at sunrise. Admittedly, visiting at this time of the day can be very rewarding since many hot air balloons pass over the area around this time.
Amenhotep III’s two-seated king statues might not be the biggest or even the most popular of Luxor’s tourist attractions, but if you’re already in the area to see sites like the huge Karnak Temple complex, the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor Temple, and/or Medinet Habu, then a visit to these two ancient Egyptian statues is certainly to be recommended. In fact, nearly all of our 5-Star Nile River cruises and Luxor west bank tour packages include a visit to the Colossi of Memnon.
Explore the Best of Egypt and Luxor
If you would like to visit Luxor and explore it many ancient historical sites located on both sides on the Nile, then you should definitely contact us today.
We offer many carefully planned Egypt tour packages, including a wide range of Nile cruises from Luxor to Aswan and Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor, and the Colossi of Memnon are featured in almost all of them.
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