Medinet Habu – An Ancient Mortuary Temple Of Ramesses III

Medinet Habu is the name which has been given to the ancient Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III which is located on the West Bank in Luxor. The area where it stands is also called Medinet Habu, and for this reason, many people refer to the temple as “Medinat” Habu. The temple dates back to the New Kingdom period, and its most famous for its vast amount of well preserved reliefs and massive statues of Ramesses III.

Temple of Medinet Habu, Luxor

Temple of Medinet Habu, Luxor.

A Brief History Of Medinet Habu

Medinet Habu is the second largest ancient temple ever discovered in Egypt, covering a total area of more than 66,000 square meters. The temple was built specifically as a mortuary temple by Ramesses III who was the second pharaoh of the 20th dynasty, and also the last great pharaoh of the New Kingdom. While the temple was built for Ramesses III to practice mortuary rituals, it was also used as a place for worshipping the god Amun.

Given its vast size and grandeur, some historians and Egyptologists have speculated that Ramesses III had actually attempted to rival the temple built by the great Ramesses II which coincidentally is also located nearby on the West Bank.

Visiting the Mortuary Temple Of Ramesses III

Visitors to Medinet Habu typically enter the site via a giant gateway that has two huge columns on either side. After passing through the gateway one can see the ruins of Ramesses III royal palace, and one really needs to spend some time taking in the sight of these ruins in order to fully appreciate the wealth of royalty during the New Kingdom era.

The 210 by 300 meter temple precinct is home to roughly 7,000 square meters of well preserved reliefs. Many of these show depictions relating the defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III. Others depict scenes relating to various religious rituals and ceremonies, all of which are among the best preserved reliefs ever found.

After passing through the first pylon visitors will find themselves in a huge courtyard that’s lined with massive statues of Ramesses III on one side and plain columns on the other. Visitors than then proceed through the second and third pylons which lead them to the old hypostyle hall. The hall would have at one time had a roof, but it is no longer there today.

The hypostyle hall is once again home to many well preserved reliefs, but one of the most interesting things about the hall, is the fact that archeologists discovered a large number of human heads on display. It is believed that they once belonged to captives and were put on display as a symbol of Ramesses III control of Nubia and Syria. Visitors today however won’t see any heads since they were all removed from the site.

Beside the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu, there is also a small temple dedicated to the god Amun. This temple was originally built by Queen Hatshepsut and then later altered by King Tuthmosis III, before being modified once again during the Roman period.

Explore the World’s Largest Open-Air Museum

Luxor is home to six great temples, and all of them are in close proximity to each other. Luxor is also home to several other infamous attractions, including the Valley of Kings and the Valley of Queens, and for this reason, many of our all-inclusive Egypt vacations include spending some time sightseeing in Luxor.

However, not all Egypt tour packages include visiting this temple. If you want to visit Medinet Habu and it’s not included in your chosen tour, please inform one of our consultants so that your itinerary can be amended.