One of the most beautiful, well-preserved Temples in Egypt lies in 2.5km south east of Dendera. Not home to one architectural feat, but many. The Dendera Temple complex is home to a Sanatorium (a medical treatment centre of sorts), a Roman Mammisi (chapel), the Temple of the Birth of Isis and much more. Arguably, the most magnificent site is the Temple of Hathor. To any who don’t know, Hathor is an Ancient Goddess most known for representing motherhood, love and joy. She is represented as a woman with horns and a sun disk. Bladdy marvelous isn’t she?
The Temple at Dendera, believed to have been built in the eighteenth dynasty (ca 1500BC) by Pharoah Pepi I is one of the most beautiful sites in Egypt. I was fortunate enough to be taken around by an Egyptologist who, on our visit, explained to us how important Hathor was to Egyptian life. That she was worshipped by all ancient Egyptians as they believed she welcomed them into the afterlife. Think of her as your guardian goddess. She really must have been critical to mythology as just look at this temple built as a shrine to her! Oh and you’ll really appreciate this if you love hieroglyphics.
Isn’t that incredible? Not only are these structural pillars, but they are aesthetically INCREDIBLE. Each part telling a key story in Egypts History to which you can read one of my favourites on the myth of creation here. That’s useful use of wall space if I ever did see it.
Recently restored, the Temple is not to be missed in a visit to Egypt. If you’ve visited the Louvre you may have even seen one of the most precious art pieces (that belonged to this place). The Dendera Zodiac, which represents the Taurus and the Libra has been described as “the only complete map that we have of an ancient sky” (John H. Rogers). It really is a shame is was taken in 1820 and chiselled out of the ceiling. Don’t worry though, there is a plaster cast replacement to give you a feel for what it would have looked like.
On the outer walls of the Temple (at the rear) are a few familiar faces, including Cleopatra. Which Cleo I hear you ask? Cleopatra VII (of course!) and her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion. The temple grounds are really a goldmine for exploring Egypt’s rich history.
If I’ve peaked your interest in the temple and you’d like to read more… I’d highly recommend Visiting Tour Egypt’s blog in which the temple is fully explored. Me? Well I think I better just take my purse out and book another cruise down the Nile.