Ancient Egypt is one of the world’s great civilizations. After a unified kingdom arose around 3150 BC a series of dynasties ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. During this incredible long era the ancient Egyptians produced some of the most famous monuments in the world of which many have survived the ages. Below is a list of the most amazing ancient Egyptian monuments.
The Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt from around 1479 BC until her death in 1458 BC, is situated beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile. It is a colonnaded structure, which was designed and implemented by Senemut, the royal architect of Hatshepsut, to serve for her posthumous worship and to honor the glory of Amun. The temple is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it and consists of three layered terraces reaching 30 meters (97 ft ) in height. These terraces are connected by long ramps which were once surrounded by gardens.
Read more: Temple of Hatshepsut Guide
The Beny Pyramid located at Dahshur was the second pyramid built by pharaoh Sneferu. Mysteriously, the pyramid rises from the desert at an angle of 55 degrees and then suddenly changes to a more gradual angle of 43 degrees. One theory holds that due to the steepness of the original angle the weight to be added above the inner chambers and passageways became to large, forcing the builders to adopt a shallower angle. It is the only pyramid in Egypt of which the outer casing of polished limestone is still largely intact.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser at the Saqqara necropolis was the very first pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians. It was constructed during the 27th century BC for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his Vizier Imhotep. The ancient monument began as a traditional, flat-roofed mastaba but by the end of Djoser’s reign it had risen to a six stepped layer Pyramid and stood 204 feet (62 meters) high. As in earlier mastaba tombs, the burial chambers of the Step Pyramid are underground, hidden in a maze of tunnels.
The Luxor Temple is located on the east bank of the River Nile in the ancient city of Thebes and was founded in 1400 BC during the New Kingdom. The temple was dedicated to the three Egyptian gods Amun, Mut, and Chons. The ancient temple was the center of the festival of Opet, Thebes’ most important festival. During the annual festival the statues of the three Gods were escorted to the temple of Luxor along the avenue of sphinxes that connect the 2 temples.
Located at the Giza Plateau, The Great Sphinx is one of the largest and oldest monuments in the world, but basic facts about it, such as who was the model for the face, when it was built, and by whom, are still debated. It is the largest monolith statue in the world although it is considerably smaller than the Pyramids around it. Despite conflicting evidence and viewpoints over the years, the traditional view held by modern Egyptologists at large remains that the Great Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC by the pharaoh Khafre, the supposed builder of the second pyramid at Giza.
Built by Pharaoh Sneferu, the Red Pyramid is the world’s first successful attempt at constructing a “true” smooth-sided pyramid. At 104 meters it is the 4th highest pyramid ever built in Egypt. What really makes the Red Pyramid special today is the lack of crowds that plagues the Giza Plateau and the comparatively unregulated interior access.
Read more: Red Pyramid Guide
The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the kings and privileged nobles of the New Kingdom. The valley contains 63 tombs and chambers, ranging in size from a simple pit to a complex tomb with over 120 chambers. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. All of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity. Only the famous tomb of Tutankhamun was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations.
Read more: Valley of the Kings Guide
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses The Great in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari. The complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River.
Read more: Abu Simbel Guide
Although badly ruined, few sites in Egypt are more impressive than Karnak. It is the largest ancient religious site in the world, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of Egyptian builders. Most of the work on Karnak was done by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (1570-1100 BC). The Temple of Karnak actually consists of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about 2.5 kilometers north of Luxor. One of most famous structures of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall, a hall area of 5,000 m2 (50,000 sq ft) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows.
Read more: Karnak Guide
The Giza necropolis, situated in the immediate vicinity of the southwestern suburbs of Cairo is home to the most famous ancient Egyptian monuments. The pyramids in Giza were built over the span of three generations – by Khufu, his second reigning son Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest and sole remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Over 2 million blocks of stone were used to construct the pyramid, during a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The pyramid is an awe-inspiring 139 meters (455 feet) high making it the largest pyramid in Egypt, although nearby Khafre’s Pyramid appears to be larger as it is build at a higher elevation.
Read more: Giza Necropolis Guide