The Temple of Edfu is one of the best preserved and biggest temple complexes in Egypt. It is comparatively younger than most of the Egyptian temples because construction ended only about 60 BC. Then the huge structure was buried in sand that preserved it well until it was uncovered by archaeologists about 170 years ago.
It is off the common tourist routes since it is an out of the way area about 115 kilometers (70 miles) south of Luxor and 105 kilometers (65 miles) north of Aswan. It is a favorite stop for Nile cruise boats and easy to reach from the Nile since the river boats dock about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the Temple of Edfu. Then you can take a horse-drawn carriage to the temple site!
- 1. What to See in the Temple of Edfu
- 2. History of the Temple of Edfu
- 3. Visiting the Temple of Edfu
What to See in the Temple of Edfu
First of all, horses and carriages! It might surprise most tourists that the common way to go to the temple area is by horse and carriage. You might enjoy this experience though. Otherwise, if you prefer, you could take a tuk-tuk. When you get to the town of Edfu, you might see hundreds of horse carriages lined up waiting to supply the transportation.
At the entrance, there is a cafeteria and a place to park vehicles.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu is one of the most-complete and the best-preserved ancient temple structures in Egypt. Here are the main things to see starting from the entrance.
The Pylon: The entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu is an impressive pylon. It is 36 meters (130 feet) tall and 80 meters (260 feet) wide. The pylon is a monumental gateway. It consists of two tapering towers. You can see reliefs decorating the twin towers. These pictures are mirror images of each other that show Ptolemy XII defeating his enemies.
Two granite statues: Two falcon statues are at the entrance gate.
The Courtyard: Past the entrance, you can see relief pictures of a feast of the gods. The courtyard is ringed on three sides with thirty-two columns that form a covered colonnade. There is a destroyed granite statue of the falcon god and a well-preserved one.
The Great Outer Hall: Past the Courtyard is the huge Outer Hall that is made of twelve columns arranged in two rows. The capitals and the ceiling are adorned with astronomical pictures.
The Inner Hall: Past the Outer Hall is the Inner Hall. There are twelve columns in three rows. The columns are lit in various colors. There are three small rooms decorated with reliefs.
The Hall of Offerings: Past the Inner Hall is a narrow room that was used for the burning of offerings of food and oil.
The Antechamber: This is a room at the entrance of the Naos.
The Naos: This room was built by Nectanebo II. It is thought to be the oldest part of the temple. It has a replica of a boat that is thought to have been there originally.
Other rooms: There are other rooms to explore also that were thought to be storage rooms and places to make oils and scents for use in the temple. Some chambers have recipes for making the oils and scents. Tourists can appreciate that this is one of the few temples that has an intact roof. This preserved the insides of the temple well, and gives visitors an experience of what the temple was like thousands of years ago.
Suggested reading: How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 7 Easy Steps
History of the Temple of Edfu
Ptolemy III began the construction of the temple in 237 BC, and it was completed about 57 BC. So, it is thought that it took about 180 years to complete the construction. The temple is a Temple of Horus (the falcon-headed Egyptian god). It was built on an earlier temple. Greek Empire rulers ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 331 BC. They were called the Ptolemaic Dynasty. You can see how the builders and artists mixed together Egyptian and Greek styles.
The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt from 323 BC to 30 BC. They built several temple complexes including Edfu and Dendera. Ptolemy III Euergetes started building the Temple of Edfu in 237 BC. When Christians started to rule Egypt, they did not allow worship of the gods. The Muslims did not allow worship of them either. It is thought that it was covered by desert sand for more than a millennium. Locals built their houses on it. Only the very top of the temple pylons remained visible.
The French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette started extensive excavations around the year 1860.
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Visiting the Temple of Edfu
- Entrance fees: about 180 EGP or about 9 USD. Students get in for about half price with student identification.
- Hours: 7 am to 4 pm, October through May; 7 am to 5 pm, June through September.
- Weather in Edfu: The high temperatures in winter are about 16 to 18 °C (62°F) between December and February. In the summer, it gets as hot as 34 °C (93°F) in July and August.
- The air is quite dry, so pack clothes that will keep you cool such as thin shirts and dresses. Wear comfortable shoes too for walking around the Temple of Edfu!
- Where to stay: There aren't many places to stay in the town of Edfu. There are tourist hotels in Luxor and Aswan.
How to Get to the Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu is not very convenient to reach by public transportation. It is about a 2-hour drive by vehicle from both Luxor and Aswan, and getting to either city is not very convenient from Cairo and Alexandria either.
By Flight from Cairo Airport (CAI) to Aswan
A flight to Aswan and then a taxi is a lot quicker than the train. A flight from Cairo Airport to Aswan takes about 1½ hours and might cost $90 USD to $150 USD. Then, you will need a private vehicle or a taxi to take you to the town of Edfu. The taxi ride takes about two hours to travel 130 kilometers, and it might cost about 25 USD. Edfu is one of the bigger towns in Egypt. It has a population of about 140,000 people. Altogether, if the connections are fast, a plane trip from Cairo might take about 5 or 6 hours including the horse-drawn carriage or tuk-tuk ride.
Once you are at the temple, walking is easy, and it is the best way to experience the place. We recommend that having a private vehicle for transportation is the best way to get around quickly and conveniently from spot to spot in Egypt.
Suggested reading: Top 7 Egyptian Palaces (Mainly in Cairo and Alexandria) and 7 Top Things to Do in Cairo at Night
From the Cairo Station by Train
You can go to the Cairo train station by public transportation by using the Cairo metro and going to the Martyrs metro station (called Al Shohadaa Station) on Ramses Square. The Cairo Station is also called the Misr Station and the Ramses Station, so this confuses tourists. From the Cairo Airport (CAI), you can go to the Martyrs Train Station in about 19 minutes by taxi. The Martyrs metro station is the meeting point of Line 1 and Line 2.
You could take a 10-hour train ride from Cairo Station to Luxor. The cost of a ticket is about $28 USD. Once there, a 2-hour taxi ride might take $23 USD. This is an 111 kilometers taxi ride.
Nile River Cruise
You can also get there by river boat. It is one of the five places where river cruises usually stop.
Recommended visiting duration: half a day
- 8-Day Egypt Essence with Nile Cruise Tour
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Suggested reading: Why Visit Egypt? - 6 Main Reasons
Touring Egypt with Global Highlights
We could help design your perfect trip to Egypt. Our knowledgeable staff will assist you in selecting destinations, accommodation, and activities that best suit your requirements. A private guide can also help with transportation so that you will not face the challenge of negotiating the public transportation or taking taxis.
For anyone wanting to see the Temple of Edfu, going inside with an experienced guide makes for a better and more convenient experience. He or she can guide you along through the halls and rooms and explain what some of the inscriptions say. They can also help with shopping and seeing the town of Edfu, while steering clear of crime and tourist traps.
With a tailor-made trip, you can enjoy the journey at your own pace as everything is well taken care of. Whether you want to go by river boat, airplane, or a private vehicle, having a driver and tour guide makes for a more convenient, safer, and richer experiences.
Why Travel with Global Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)
- Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
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