Edfu (Idfu) – Temple of Horus

Edfu (Idfu) it lies on the west bank of the Nile, between Luxor (115 km to the south) in Asuanem (105 km to the north). They are inhabited by over 115 thousand. residents. It is an agricultural and food processing center (sugar cane refinery).


The city is situated near the border with Nubia and at the intersection of important communication routes – the caravan road to Charge oasis to the west and the road to the Red Sea coast – already flourished in the Predynastic Age. During the Old Kingdom it was the capital of the second nome of Upper Egypt and a place of worship of Horus. Tradition proclaims, that Imhotep himself was here, creator of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara and he was the one who erected the first stone temple. It was dedicated to Horus, Hathor of Dandara and their son – Around tawy, called by the Greeks Harsomtus. During the First Transition Period, Edfu grew dynamically. During the X Dynasty, the rulers of Thebes fought against the ruling princes of Lower Egypt, the princes of Herakleopolis. Anchtify was the head of the third Upper Egyptian nome, a supporter of the lords of Herakleopolis. He achieved a strong position after defeating a powerful man named Khuy, loyal to the ruler of Thebes, and the elimination of famine in the area. During the New Kingdom, Thotmes III built a small temple of Horus here, which subsequent pharaohs developed. From the time of Ramesses III, the remains of a pylon adjoining the present tabernacle at right angles have been preserved.
But only after the Ptolemaic temple was erected, the city became an important cult center of Horus of Behedet. The sandstone temple had different names: Mesen, Harpoon's Place, Palace of Re, Nedżem-anch, Pleasant to Live Place, Falcon window, The Tabernacle of Horus, Uetdjeset-Hor – Place, in Which Horus is Glorified. This first shrine of the Egyptian gods, built on the orders of the Ptolemy, was built on the foundations of earlier temples. Ptolemy, even though they descended from Ptolemaic, the Macedonian commander and companion of King Alexander the Great, they built many magnificent buildings in the Egyptian state. The cornerstone has been laid 23 of August 237 r. p.n.e. by order of Ptolemy III Euergetes I, and the work continued with slight interruptions almost 180 years. W 212 r. p.n.e. the main part of the temple was being completed. W 206 r. p.n.e. the work was stopped because of the revolt of two chiefs from Thebes. Officially, the temple was put into use in 142 r. p.n.e. for Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and his wife Cleopatra II, but the work on the sanctuary was finally over 5 of December 57 r. p.n.e. after Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus, called Auletes, Cleopatra VII's father. During the Byzantine Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries. the temple served as a fortress, and inside, fires were boiled and made, as evidenced by the layers of kicking on the ceiling. Actions of iconoclasts, both Christians, and later Muslims, contributed to the destruction of many reliefs. The neophytes stubbornly destroyed the faces of gods and kings, taking care, that in this way they contribute to the victory of their religion.


You go to the temple from the Shari 'al-Maglis via Midan al-Ma'bad, then drives along the road next to the Muslim cemetery to a special square for tourists guarded by the police next to the temple.
From the beginning 2004 r. there is a new entrance with a parking lot for cars, coaches and parking caleche, monitored electronically and by cameras. There are ticket offices here, a tourist police office and a small bazaar for tourists. Disabled people in wheelchairs can visit the monument without any problems. After passing the control, you enter the great square (there is also a multimedia center) surrounded by remnants of mud brick walls, at the end of which you can see the great pylon of the temple. On the right, on a large mound, there are houses of the modern city, under which there are probably remains of temple buildings. On the way, you can see Ptolemaic mammoths on the left, the temple of birth.
The temple, built of sandstone, covers an area of ​​dimensions 137 on 79 m (next to the pylon). The axis of the structure is atypical – north to south - and crosses at right angles the axis of the former tabernacle facing the Nile. The system follows the pattern developed during the New Kingdom.
The first element is the pylon, behind which a spacious courtyard opens with columned porticoes. There are two column halls behind the courtyard, then the victim hall, Hall of the Great Nine of Gods, a vestibule and a barge room surrounded by accompanying rooms. The most important part was the sanctuary with a statue of the deity.
Fewer and fewer people could enter the next part (only the ruler and priests enter the sanctuary). Each subsequent room was also getting smaller and darker.
The Great Pylon is the youngest part of the district. Started in the time of Ptolemy IX Soter, was completed in 57 r. p.n.e. The two towers are almost identical in appearance and decorations. They count almost 36 m high and decorated with typical scenes depicting the pharaoh Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus defeating his enemies and Iorus the Elder and seated Egyptian gods. On both sides of the entrance in the pylon inn, there are two vertical recesses for cedar masts, on which colorful flags waved. Above the portal is a winged sun disc symbolizing Horus of Edfu. The entrance to the complex is guarded by two statues carved in dark gray granite, depicting a god in the form of a falcon. Behind the Great Pylon there is a large space of the courtyard of gifts, surrounded by porticoes 32 columns with composite heads made of calyxes, flower stalks and palm leaves (everyone else). The composite head type first appeared in Egypt in this era. Perhaps its shape was influenced by the Greek Corinthian capital spread from the 4th century. p.n.e.
Every year in the third month of summer (Epift) the priests of the temple in Dandar carried the statue of Hathor to the temple in Edfu, where, as they believed, Horus and Hathor were fulfilling their marital duties. Each night the gods rested outside the temple, w mammisi, birth house, where their son was born, Harsomtus. Reliefs depicting the Feast of a Beautiful Meeting, also known as the Feast of Good Connection, Hathor's annual visit to his spouse, are located on the inside of the Great Pylon and connect the Temple of Horus with the Temple Complex of Hathor in Dandar. Hathor statue, towed on a sacred barge, it entered the courtyard accompanied by a statue of Horus, and headed right, to a small sanctuary decorated with bas-reliefs. Here, the sacrifices performed appropriate rituals to restore the goddess's strength after the journey. The joyful celebration continued 14 days and the whole city participated in it.
On the left, the west side of the courtyard is a place, where the goddess said goodbye to her husband before returning to Dandara. In his company, it flowed downstream to the border of the nome, where the final parting took place. Temples in the Ptolemaic period began to play a different role than in the times of native kings. Pharaonic shrines served only rulers and priests, and the people could only watch the ceremonies sometimes taking place outside the tabernacles. But under the Ptolemy the rites were far-reaching democratization, and many ordinary people were allowed to enter the temple courtyard from time to time..