The temple of Karnak is a monument made by many pharaohs. The temple itself was mainly dedicated to the god Amun. Located on the east bank of Thebes, the temple’s construction began around the early Middle Kingdom and continued through the New Kingdom. As each pharaoh succeeded the throne they continually added buildings, statues, and temples. The temple grew outward and became a series of many temples that were combined.
A major characteristic of Karnak is the avenue of the ram-headed sphinxes. These sphinxes were sacred to Amun and the pharaohs placed them there to symbolize their protection. The sphinxes lead to the entrance of two main entrances—east and west.
Inside the temple and located towards the center, a scared lake was located on each wing of the temple. The lakes represented creation and were believed to be used by priests who would perform rituals. The biggest of the two lakes was dug by Tuthmosis III and was done is a rectangle. It is one of the most well preserved lakes to date.
The temple’s main attraction is the columns located in the Great Hypostyle Hall. There are a total of 134 columns. The central nave is held up by 12 columns which are 70 ft tall and have a diameter of 18 feet. The columns gave clues as to how the temple functioned through inscriptions and carvings.
Another noticeable trait is the pylons. The pylons are massive gateways that define the approach of the entrance. The temple has ten and they are often referred to the First Pylon (Nectanebo I), Second Pylon (19th Dynasty), Third Pylon (Amenhotep III), Fourth Pylon (Thutmose I), Fifth Pylon (Thutmose I), Sixth Pylon (Thutmose III), Seventh Pylon (Thutmose III), Eight Pylon (Hapshepsut), Ninth Pylon (Horemheb) and the Tenth Pylon (Horemheb) .
The temple is broken down into four major parts, the Precinct of Amun-Re, the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut, and the Temple of Amenhotep IV.
Precinct of Amun-Re: The Precinct of Amun-Re is the largest part of the temple. It is the only section open to the public. This section is so large that it holds many buildings and temples. In this section visitors can see the Pylons, the Memorial Temple of Thutmose III, Sacred Lake, Enclosusre Wall of the Percent of Amun, Temple of Path, and the Temple of the Healing Ear. These are just a few of the many monuments that can be found inside this precinct.
Precinct of Montu: This precinct housed the Temple of Montu, the Temple of Harpe, and the Temple of Maat. It is closed to the public and a gateway constructed by Ptolemy III and Ptolemy IV is the most noticeable formation inside this precinct.
Precinct of Mut: This precinct holds the other scared lake that is shaped like a U. It houses the temple of Ramesses III, the temple of Mut, and the temple of Khonspekhrod. Other smaller structures and shrines can be seen there as well; however, most of what remains in that section has been destroyed.
Temple of Amenhotep IV: This precinct was done by Akhenaten and was located to the east of Karnak. Because Akhenaten brought so many radical changes in his time which were not favorably to his subjects, much of what was constructed in this precinct was destroyed and now a majority of its design is unknown.
The temple of Karnack remains a high point of interest to tourists. It has so many things to see and it’s highly advised you do research before entering the temple.