Alternative Egypt Travel Guide
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Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple

Karnak is located just few Km North of Luxor, and is arguably Egypt’s greatest monument bar the Pyramids.  

Built on a gigantic scale, the site covers in total more than 245 acres and is the largest ancient religious site on the planet. It took a total of 1300 years to build and has been attracting pilgrims (and now tourists) for more than 4000 years.

Unable to comprehend its construction as anything other than divine, the ancient Egyptians called the site ‘Ipet Isut’ meaning ‘perfect of palaces’.

The construction of Karnak begun during the middle kingdom, but reached its Zenith during the new Kingdom as the God Amun rose to absolute power in the region. When wars were waged in Ancient Egypt it was seen as the battle between one deity and another for supremacy. Thus Gods were able to rise and fall like kings.

During the height of its power, Karnak presided over 65 villages, 433 gardens, 85 ships, and more than 80,000 workers and slaves.

The site includes three separate temple complexes, the largest and most revered being the Precinct of Amun. Large enough to accommodate 10 cathedrals, the precinct comprises of a sacred lake, several temples, chapels, a court, a festival hall and famously, the great Hypostyle Hall – a towering forest of ancient columns.

The site was once connected to the Luxor Temple - 3Km to the South - by an avenue flanked with sphinxes. Although some of them remain, most are buried beneath the edifices of the modern city.

Getting to Karnak

Karnak is located just three Km north of Luxor and takes its name from the village located close by.

If you’re visiting Karnak it’s likely you’ll be staying in Luxor, or arriving to Luxor by boat. In either case it’s easy to reach the temple complex by taxi (5 minutes), carriage (10 minutes) or foot (30 minutes).

Taxis and Kalesh’s (horse drawn carriages) loiter all over Luxor, but in particular near the West bank of the river Nile where the boats dock. Agree a price directly with the driver before setting off. Most will also be willing to wait for you and bring you back post visit should you desire.

By foot the route is simple. Just walk north along the banks of the Nile from Luxor for about 30 minutes. The town of Karnak is located just beyond the temple complex and is a good place for lunch.

Karnak Ticket Price and Admission Times


Entrance to Karnak is E50 for adults or E25 for students. Opening times vary from 6am – 6.30 pm during the summer months; and 6am – 5pm in the winter.

Karnak Sound and Light Show

As featured in James Bond’s ‘The Spy Who Loved me’; the Karnak sound and lights show allows the traveller to tour the site by moonlight, while booming voices share insights into Theban life. The choreographed illuminations, projections and sound effects are a little a dated and cheesy, but the show is still one that most visitors seem to enjoy.

Shows take place in a variety of languages each and every night.

For a full Karnak sound and light show schedule.

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