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Vacations in Egypt

The Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor
By Seif Kamel

About Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was one of the greatest and most famous queens of Egypt. Together with Cleopatra, who ruled Egypt from 51 till 30 BC, and Shagret El Durr, who ruled Egypt only for 80 days in 1250 AD, they are the only queens who ruled over Egypt throughout the rich history of the country.

Queen Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the eighth dynasty. She ruled Egypt for 21 years from 1503 till 1482 BC.

Her reign was characterized with the power of the Egyptian military forces, a great period of remarkable constructions, and many external trading journeys.

Hatshepsut was the older daughter of the King Thutmosis I, and her father had an illegitimate son, Thutmosis II, and Hatshepsut agreed to marry him, in a royal habit that was spread in Egypt at the time, to rule Egypt together.

Queen Hatshepsut has left many rumors and mysteries. Most of these rumors were around the relation between the queen and her favorite architect Senenmut who has built her the mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in the west bank of Luxor. Some historians have asserted that Senenmut has dug a tunnel between his tombs to her royal tomb in order to live together forever. Some believe that the queen and Senenmut were madly in love together.

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, located in the West bank in the famous touristic city of Luxor in Egypt, or El Deir Al Bahry as many people prefer to call it, is one of the most marvelous Pharaonic monuments in the country that is included in many Egypt vacation packages.

The Europeans who traveled to Egypt in the 19th century never mentioned anything about the Temple of Hatshepsut although they gave detailed descriptions of other monuments in the West bank of Luxor like the Ramesseum and the amazing temple of Madinet Habu.

This was because the Temple of Hatshepsut was buried under piles of dust and sand on which a Coptic Monastery was constructed. This was why the temple was called El Deir El Bahry, the monastery of the North.

The Temple of Hatshepsut was discovered in 1858 by August Mariette who was able to unearth the main structure of the temple. Other excavation works implemented by Eduard Naville, carried out in 1891, even discovered more the complexes built in this site throughout history.

It was in the year 1961 that the site we see today was unearthed by the Polish Egyptian excavation mission. This historical site hosted three temples; the temple of Mentuhotep II, the founder of 11th dynasty, the temple of Tuthmosis III, and the famous mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut being part of many private tours to Egypt.

The most favorite architect and the most skilful construction designer of the New Kingdom, Senenmut, built the Temple of Hatshepsut which was called in the ancient Egyptian language; "the sacred of the sacreds".     

This amazing Pharaonic temple consists mainly of three terraces that stand on different levels ending with the rock cut sanctuary of the god Amun whom this temple was actually dedicated tougher with the god Re- Harakhty.

Any private tour of Egypt that contains a visit to Luxor must include a visit to the monuments of the west bank. This includes the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Temple of Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon. 
 
On the left hand side to the entrance to the three terraces, the Chapel of the goddess Hathour is one of the most splendid sections of the Hatshepsut Temple. This section had an original entrance to the second terrace of the temple which is now closed.

This chapel mainly consists of a large launch with 12 huge pillars decorated with the head of the goddess Hathour at the top. These columns are followed by the rock cut sanctuary of Hathour and this was where the most secret and sacred religious rituals of the cult of Hathour took place. 

The chapel of Hathour is one of the most famous sections of the temple of Hatshepsut that is usually visited by tourists as part of their Egypt vacations

The walls of the chapel of Hathour are ornamented with multicolored bas relief that is still finely preserved until today. These paintings depict Hathour in the disguise of a cow and many other forms.

Opposite to the Chapel of Hathour, on the left hand side of the entrance of to the terraces of the temple, the Chapel of Anubis is situated.

This chapel contains scenes of the divine birth of the Queen Hatshepsut generated by the god Amun.

The same as that of Hathour, the Chapel of Anubis contains a hypostyle hall that has 12 huge pillars holding an astronomical ceiling with a rock cut sanctuary at the end. There are many wall paintings with offering scenes that are perfectly preserved and they are admired by many tourists who visit the temple as part of their private tours in Egypt.

The ceilings of the marvelous temple of Hatshepsut were totally destroyed with time passing by. However the terraces of the temple are still in a good condition. These terraces were constructed in a form of steps, one leading to the other in a remarkable harmony.

In the middle of these terraces, there is a set of stairs that lead the guest from one level to the other.

Many trees, mainly myrrh, were transplanted in the temple of Hatshepsut and some of them are still in their original location until today.

A marvelous statue of the god Horus, one of the most popular gods of ancient Egypt, stands guarding the temple of Hatshepsut and welcoming the tourists nowadays who visit the temple as part of their vacations in Egypt.  

The most dominant feature of the second terrace of the temple is the statues of the Queen Hatshepsut disguised as a man pharaoh. These statues are more than 15 meters long and some of them look magnificent until today.

On the second terrace of the temple, the Punt Portico is positioned. This section, together with the Chapel of Hathour, is the most marvelous and most visited parts of the temple of Hatshepsut.  

The bas reliefs of this section demonstrates the expedition journeys carried out by the Queen Hatshepsut to the lands of Punt, which most probably was located near the Red Sea between Sudan and Ethiopia nowadays.

This journey that consisted of five large ships went to these foreign lands to obtain incense, myrrh trees, and several types of wood.   

More than 30 Myrrh trees, which were brought from Pont, were in a good condition to be transplanted in Egypt in the famous temple of Karnak. Being sacred to the god Amun, the god of the temple of Karnak, myrrh was used to in the embalming process and in medications as well in ancient Egypt.

New tombs discovered in the Temple of Hatshepsut

A new set of tombs were discovered in the temple of Hatshepsut in 2003 by the Polish excavation mission that carried out its work in Luxor.

The head of the Polish mission has announced that the tomb that was discovered lately belong to Padi Amunati, the Vizier of the temple of Hatshepsut. His coffin and many other findings were also unearthed.

They have also asserted that the temple of Hatshepsut was used, in different periods of the Egyptian history, for many purposes other than religious rituals as it was as a necropolis for nobles, for example, in the intermediate period.

There are several other tombs that belong to the royal family, high governmental officers, and nobles of the 25th dynasty in Egypt.

The temple of Hatshepsut, is not only considered to be a valuable human heritage site, it is also considered to be an architectural jewel. Many tourists visit the temple of Hatshepsut when they spend their vacations in Egypt.

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