Karnak Temple - History and Facts | History Hit

Karnak Temple

Luxor, Luxor Governate, Egypt

The Karnak Temple is a vast sacred Ancient Egyptian complex in Luxor, Egypt listed by UNESCO.

Peta Stamper

12 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Karnak Temple

The Karnak Temple or rather the complex of temples of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, is one of the most impressive of Ancient Egyptian sites and once formed part of the city of Thebes. Together with the Luxor Temple and the Valley of the Kings, the Karnak Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Karnak Temple history

Sprawling over 2 square kilometres, the site known as the Karnak Temple was built in dedication to the god Amun and expanded by a succession of pharaohs, from those of the Middle Kingdom (1965-1920 BC) to the Ptolemaic dynasty (305 BC to 30 BC). The result is an incredible maze of temples, sanctuaries, sphinxes, columns and pylons amidst other ancient buildings and its name translates in Arabic as ‘fortified village’.

One of the most important and impressive sites at the Karnak Temple complex is the Temple of Amun-Ra, with its world famous Great Hypostyle Hall. Debate still continues as to whether this looming structure with its 69 foot columns was created by Amenhotep III or Seti I, although it was completed by Ramses II.

Karnak Temple today

Vast and full of fascinating sites, Karnak Temple is Egypt’s second-most visited site (following the Giza pyramids) and today constitutes Karnak Open Air Museum. Most people take a couple ofhours at the Karnak Temple, but this is only really enough to scratch the surface of this ancient complex, seeing only the Precinct of Amun-Re.

Closed to the public, the Precincts of Mut and Montu along with the deliberately dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV are in differing processes of restoration, having been used to build other buildings. Nevertheless, this unmissable site available to explore is an overwhelming ancient treasure, its pillars dramatically lit up with afternoon sunshine.

Getting to Karnak Temple

Along the Nile River and on the outskirts of Luxor, the Karnak Temple is easily reached either on foot or via public transport – the temple is only a 40 minute walk from the train station with links to Cairo or Aswan. By car, Luxor is just off the 75 motorway and is a 15 minute drive from Luxor’s International Airport.

History Hit’s ancient history expert, Tristan Hughes, digs deep into one of Ancient Egypt's greatest treasures, a site that ranks among the world’s most impressive religious sanctuaries in both its size, splendour and importance.
Watch Now

Featured In

Egyptian Sites

From the world famous pyramids of Giza to the mask of Tutankhamen at Cairo's Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, follow in the footsteps of the pharaohs in our guide to the best Ancient Egyptian attractions to see.