Karnak Travel Guide

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The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak

Howard Banwell

Karnak is the location of ancient Thebes.  The spectacular site is massive, measuring 1,500 metres by 800 metres, and was built, added to, restored, enlarged and redecorated over a period of 1,500 years.  The central feature of Karnak is the enormous Amun Temple largely constructed between 1570 and 1090 BC. .  Later pharaohs added their own touches, and the Ptolemies and Christians also left their mark.  It has many outstanding features including a processional entrance of ram-headed sphinxes, through which one enters the temple, a fifty metre first pylon (unfinished), and the tallest obelisk in Egypt (29.6 metres) soaring up in granite splendour.   Its most unforgettable feature, however, is the stunning Great Hypostyle Hall built in the late 13th century BC by Seti I and finished off by Ramses II.  The hall is a perfectly proportioned forest of 134 towering papyrus-shaped stone pillars all decorated in delicate sunken and raised relief. One cannot fail to be awestruck at this sight, which covers 6,000 square metres – large enough to accommodate the combined floor plans of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and St. Peter's in Rome.  (Contributed by Howard Banwell).