In ancient times, the Medinet Habu Temple was known as Djanet and, according to ancient belief, the place where God Amun first appeared. Both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. built a temple here dedicated to Amun, and later Ramses III built it. at this point his larger mortuary temple. This temple is located on the edge of the Libyan desert about four kilometers west of Luxor.
Ramses III had these huge mortuary temples surrounded by a thick stone wall with round battlements influenced by the Middle East, with an unusual gate at the eastern entrance, known as the pavilion gate. This structure, a copy of a Syrian Migdol fortress, is something one would not expect in Egypt. Ramses III, a soldier, probably saw virtue in such a structure; there was enough space inside the district for the palace, as well as storage buildings and the holy lake. The palace built on the left of the mortuary temple served as a residence for the afterlife, but with two throne rooms and other rooms it was actually a ruler’s seat that could be lived in. Ramses III lived in these gate palaces. e.g. while he was in Thebes, when he was attending festivals.
The main entrance in the southeast is the “High Gate” with sculptural relief decorations, which shows the king throwing his enemies down.
The actual mortuary temple is built like a normal Egyptian temple of gods, ie the monumental main pylon (63 meters wide and around 20 meters high) follows one another, then the 1st courtyard, the one on its right side with Osiris pillars and on the left wall is lined with a colonnade of columns. Then the smaller 2nd pylon follows with another courtyard. Finally, there are the once roofed rear rooms, which, including their column supports, have only been preserved in the lower stone layers. The place of the »Holy of Holies« is marked by two groups of statues made of rose granite, which once Amenhotep III. belonged and from Ramses III. were usurped.
In the interior of the temple there are still many reliefs with the former colored painting. Fighting and war scenes mainly adorn the temple walls. Of the pictorial representations on the outer walls of the mortuary temple, the wild bull hunt and the “land and sea battle” against the sea peoples are of particular importance. It is also noticeable how deep the hieroglyphs are cut into the stone blocks everywhere – especially the royal statute.
During his time, Djanet became the administrative center of West Thebes. The entire temple complex was surrounded by a massive, fortified enclosure wall. Originally, a canal with a port in front of the entrance connected the temple with the Nile. But this has long been wiped out by the desert.
In later times, because of its strong fortifications, it was the refuge during the civil war between the high priest of Amun in Karnak and the viceroy of Kush. During the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth dynasties (700 BC), the women of Amon were worshiped in the chapels called the Divine Adoratrices of Amun. During the Greek and Roman eras the site was expanded and between the 1st and 9th centuries AD a Coptic city was built and the temple was used as a Christian church.
Do not miss a visit to the Habu Temple during your stay in Luxor and admire the architecture of the ancient Egyptians on a day trip from Luxor.