The Colossi of Memnon is located on the West Bank in Luxor. It stands guarding a mortuary temple that was built Amenhotep III in the ancient city of Thebes.
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 regards to the locations of the various Luxor attractions in the area since 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 the particular site 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 many other temples built by ancient pharaohs.
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, is 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 enormous statues standing roughly 23 meters in height, and they were created by Amenhotep III in order to guard his mortuary temple.
A Brief History of the Memnon Statues
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 if it still existed would be even larger and more impressive than the massive Karnak temple complex across the river.
Today however, it is 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 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 has 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 statues are differentiated by the appearance of different carvings and figures on their bases. The northernmost statue shows the pharaoh with his mother, while the southernmost 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.
The Colossi 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 complex and the Valley of the Kings, then a visit to the Colossi is certainly to be recommended. It is almost always included in private Egypt tours.
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