The Temple of Khnum is located is the relatively quiet town of Esna, and many visitors find that there is actually a lot to see, rather than only the temple.
The Town of Esna
If you venture just a short distance south of the city of Luxor, you’ll find yourself arriving is the much smaller town of Esna. Many travelers who have spent some time in Esna describe it as being a hidden gem since it doesn’t often feature in your typical Luxor tour package. Even though the town is today a relatively quiet market town, it was once a much busier region. This was due to the fact that it served as an important connection to Sudan, and it was vital to the trade routes between Egypt and Sudan during the 18th Pharaonic Dynasty.
The constant flow of trade drew a great deal of attention to the town of Esna. However, when trading in the region started to go into decline, the Greeks and Romans chose it as a focal point as well and subsequently renamed the town Latopolis.
Today, many travelers enjoy visiting the town’s very popular covered market and the rather fascinating weekly animal market. The town also has a great deal of weaving and garment making shops and merchants, and a tremendous amount of agriculture. This alone makes it worth the short trip. After all, where else can you buy a roll of cloth and have garments made from it on site? Despite its many nice attractions, a lot of travelers many come to Esna solely to visit the Temple of Khnum.
Visiting the Ancient Temple of Khnum
The Temple of Khnum is indeed an interesting site because it sits roughly nine meters below the street level, and records suggest that it has been constructed on top of an earlier temple. Historians generally believe the origin of the site to be connected to Tuthmosis III. However, this is difficult to prove because it is only the modern temple that remains today. This is one that depicts several of the Ptolemy rulers which were essentially the last of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs. What scholars do know is that the physical structure of the Temple of Khnum dates back to the Greek and Roman period of Egypt.
Given what has been mentioned above, the Temple of Khnum is considered to be one of the last temples to have been built by the true Ancient Egyptians. This makes it quite valuable because it is one of the few ancient temples in which the roof is still intact, and in which various eras of construction can still be found. There are four rows of massive columns in the main hall and some even retain their ancient painted colors to this day.
Elaborate Art and Decor
Many scholars visit the Temple of Khnum purely because of the elaborate art and decor that remains. There are many typical Egyptian themes of wildlife and pharaohs making offerings to their gods, but there are additional and unique deities shown here as well. There are likewise many unique texts and hieroglyphs at Khnum, and several smaller buildings in the immediate vicinity that were dedicated to various Egyptian deities as well.
If you are considering visiting Luxor as part of a Nile cruise package, or have access to a taxi or a hired car from Luxor, it is well worth the trip to spend several hours or even a day or two in Esna. The modern town which one can see today is known to sit on top of the original site, and as a result, one can expect that there will be ongoing excavation and discoveries for many years to come.
Explore the Best of Egypt and Luxor
If you would like to spend some time exploring Esna please be sure to check out the many Egypt tour packages offered on our site. If your favorite attractions are not included in your preferred tour, simply let us know and one of our customer service representatives will contact you to discuss a custom Egypt tour that can include any and all of the destinations you are longing to see, including places like the Temple of Khnum.