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Edfu Temple and Nile River Cruise

During our trip to Egypt, one of the places we were most looking forward to visit was the Edfu Temple. Located less than a kilometer from the Nile River the Temple of Horus at Edfu (as it is formally known) is a perfect example of Egyptian temple building in the Ptolemaic period. Put simply, the Edfu Temple is absolutely remarkable.

We visited the Temple of Edfu on a multi-day Nile River cruise from Aswan to Luxor. After arriving in Edfu, Egypt, we headed from the Nile River corniche into the old Edfu temple complex by way of a horse carriage.

It was a pretty eventful ride, as the carriage Laura and her sister were in was almost hit by a truck at the main intersection. They knew it was a close call when they could tell their driver was scared.

As a town, Edfu, Egypt is unremarkable. There’s not much to distinguish it from many other cities around the world, except for one thing: the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus. While many Egyptian temples from the same period in the Upper Nile region (i.e., Kom Ombo and Philae) are more ruinous, the Temple of Edfu architecture is in excellent condition and the roof is still largely intact.

The current Edfu Temple, which was built to honor the falcon-headed god Horus, is from the Ptolemaic period (construction started in the year 237 BC) and took about 180 years to complete.

Interior courtyard of the Temple of Edfu, with carvings and columns
The temple roof is still in good shape, despite being 1800 years old

The carvings here were probably 20 feet tall and often began at least 6 feet off the ground, making us think a lot about the engineering feats necessary to build and then carve such massive structures.

Carvings and reliefs in the Edfu Temple
Carvings laced the interior walls and went all the way to the top
Reliefs of the pharoahs in the Edfu Temple
Such amazing detail

It was impossible to look at these enormous carvings (relatively well-preserved) and not have two thoughts: 1) how amazingly lucky we were to see these things and 2) maybe the human race has gotten pretty darn lazy in relying on our current technology. The inside of the temple still had some color left (the roof probably helped with the preservation).

Colored ankhs inside the Temple of Horus at Edfu
Ankhs with the original color — kind of mind-blowing
The funeral boat at Edfu Temple
Funerary boat in the holy of holies

The carriage ride back to the Nile cruise boat was less eventful than our first one, but we couldn’t help feeling sorry for these horses. Most them are too skinny and bear the marks of years of being whipped at the hands of their masters. Our guide, Hoda, talked with them at length about making sure the horses were getting enough food and water.  There’s no romance or charm to the experience.

In the afternoon back on the Nile cruise boat, we read by the pool and watched the landscape roll by as we headed our way down to Luxor. However, the thoughts of the impressive great pylon of the Horus Temple at Edfu were not far from our thoughts.

As one of the best preserved Egyptian temples on the Upper Nile River, the Edfu Temple makes a significant impression.

Cruise boat passing through locks on the Nile
Crossing through the Esna locks on the Nile River
Fishermen on the Nile River with palm trees
Fishermen on the Nile
Colorful circular skirt of the whirling dervish
The whirling dervish

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