The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is one of Luxor’s most impressive sites and was one of my favorites. I very much admired the symmetrical clean lines and straight columns, that seemed to be built right into the mountain wall. The full structure was created to organically blend in with the surrounding mountainous landscape and it was stunning.
Queen Hatshepsut admired Mentuhotep II’s temple and created one just like it, only on a larger scale. This mortuary temple was designed with the understanding that she had to establish her grandeur and authority in other ways that her male king predecessors had done. The aesthetic beauty and grace of her temple, exemplified her legitimacy in that way.
Ancient Thebes, now modern day Luxor, with its Necropolis was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The remaining temples in this ancient city by the Nile River which are still standing and are popular visitor attractions are Karnak, Luxor Temple, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple and the necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
As a woman in a traditionally male position of power, Hatshepsut has been recognized by Egyptologist as one of the most successful Egyptian pharaohs. She reigned longer than any woman pharaoh and was the daughter, sister and wife of a King. Hatsheput was extremely educated in her religion which allowed her to establish herself as the God’s Wife of Amun. She had come into power when her father, Thutmose I, died when she was 12 years old and after she married her half-brother, Thutmose II. Queen Hatsheput was known as “The woman who was King”.
Queen Hatsheput reigned over Egypt for 20 years and was believed to occasionally dress as a man, so to gain support and respect of the ancient Egyptians. When she had passed, her successor removed as many remains of her rule as possible including ones from her temple. I remember looking at the paintings along the walls of her own temple and seeing Queen Hatsheput’s face scratched off. The interesting contrast of her successors and trying to erase who she was, it only made future scholars more interested on who she was.
The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is in beautiful condition only due to much reconstruction and preservation. The columns had been rebuilt as well as many of the statues. The way you can tell a statue had been reconstructed is by the darker coloring, which is done on purpose.
It seems that over these past decades Queen Hatsheput, who ruled Egypt peacefully, is still being honored and served by others only centuries later. The preservation and workmanship to keep her temple alive proves that you can never keep a good “woman” down.
Getting to Luxor
Depending on how much time you have or your traveling style, there are may options for travel into Luxor. For my friends and I, we arrived by a cruise boat along the Nile River from Aswan, which I highly recommend. The city of Luxor is over 400 miles from Cairo and the quickest way to get there is by plane. The flight is just one hour and is very convenient. There is also a long overnight train and many big bus tours that leave from Cairo.
More than likely if you are visiting Aswan or Luxor for the temples, you will be hiring a private guide to take you there. It is very important that you hire an official guide in Egypt to take you to the sites, and just not someone on the sidewalk asking you if you want to take a city tour. On our trip to Aswan and Luxor, plus our cruise along the Nile River, we chose Egypt Gift Tours who I highly recommend. They had professionally coordinated us on private tours for all of our trips from Aswan to Luxor.
Oh the places you will go…– Dr. Seuss
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