The last great pharaoh of Egypt, Ramses II, built the Ramesseum for 20 years during his unusually long reign of 67 years. Ramses II ruled during the heyday of ancient Egyptian power and glory in the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC. The king’s incredible wealth, popularity and vanity led to the construction of the largest and greatest mortuary temples.
Location of the Ramesseum
The Ramesseum is located in the Theban Necropolis, a popular area for the mortuary temples of the pharaohs in the New Kingdom. The Theban necropolis is located in Upper Egypt and is opposite the present-day city of Luxor. The Ramesseum is dedicated to the memory of Ramses II and the god Amon Re.
Unfortunately today only a few ruins testify to the grandioseness of the building.
In addition to other temple areas, there is also a portico in the second courtyard, on whose pillars are four pharaoh statues with the appearance of Osiris (Osiris columns); Every pharaoh became an “Osiris” when he entered the hereafter. These osiris-shaped columns with portico form the entrance to the hypostyle (columned hall). In front of it are the remains of a colossal statue of Ramses, which was once a 18-meter-high statue made of black granite.
The decorations of the temple describe again the campaigns that the pharaoh undertook. Festive scenes are also depicted on it. The Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramses II, was planned in the early reign. And it was obviously built for 20 years. However, no text refers precisely to the beginning or the end of the work; however, it is said to have started in Ramses’ second year of reign. The main building was at least completed on time, because the carved texts and reliefs are reminiscent of the Battle of Kadesh, which occurred in the 5th year of Ramses’ reign.
The temple covers a wide area and is larger than any other royal temple in West Thebes, with the exception of the sanctuary of Amenhotep III. – is unfortunately no longer in its entirety today, only the two colossi of seats, the so-called Colossi of Memnon, are left of it. Ramses II probably wanted to surpass that of Amenhotep in beauty and size with his mortuary temple !?
An approximately 275 x 168 meter long enclosure wall surrounded the Ramesseum, which takes up about a quarter of the available space. Visitors came across the river by boat, got off at the quay – which at that time connected the temple to the Nile via a canal – and reached a huge pylon via which they reached the second courtyard. A small seated statue was enthroned in front of the second pylon. Numerous activities took place in the building complex before and after the Pharaoh’s death, e.g. to celebrate cults.
The center of the main temple has largely survived the times, while not much has been preserved of the colonnades that once surrounded the courtyards. Neither does the sanctuary and its adjoining rooms. A small palace was built in front of the temple, a kind of second residence of the king. He resided here when he paid a visit to Thebes. After Pharaoh’s death, the cult ceremonies were held here.
The complete temple once consisted of:
• Large pylon at the entrance to the Ramesseum
• First yard
• Giant statue of the seated Pharaoh, in the first courtyard
• Second pylon
• Second courtyard with Osiris pillars and a vestibule (in front of the portico behind it)
• Column hall (hypostyle) with a higher central nave
• Three smaller porticoed halls
• Holy of Holies
• Chapels and priest cells
• Small palace with throne room
• Double sanctuary to the side of the porticoes
• Mud brick storage rooms, magazines
• Enclosing wall
Admire this imposing building by Ramses II as part of your private Egypt study tour or on a private day trip from Luxor and let yourself be drawn under the spell of the pharaohs.