The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut lies on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor. Her temple is nestled amongst the limestone mountains accompanied with extraordinary views over Luxor. These mountains are also home to the Valley of the Kings & the Valley of the Queens where you can travel underground to explore the tombs of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs such as Tutankhamun and Ramses IV.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of Amun, the god of the sun & air. Thutmose II married Hatshepsut and during that time she rose to the position of Amun’s wife which was the highest honour a woman could have in Egypt. Thutmose II fathered a son with Isis, the mother goddess. Thutmose II died and Thutmose III was too young to rule which meant that Hatshepsut became regent. 7 years into her regency she broke tradition and crowned herself pharaoh of Egypt. Hatshepsut reigned Egypt from 1473-1458 BC. She was one of the most successful pharaohs in Egypt’s history. She created peace, work, trade and a rising economy. During her reign, she gave Thutmose III command of the Egyptian military and they conquered above all.
Mentuhotep II was the first to build a mortuary temple which both served as a tomb and a temple. Hatshepsut admired his temple and built her own larger version right next to it. As a female, she wanted to establish her authority and legitimacy. Her temple was one way of doing so. The temple consists of 3 levels. The first is a courtyard, the second contained 2 pools, The Tomb of Anubis (god of death) and Hathor (goddess of the sky, women, fertility and love) along with sphinxes leading the pathway to level 3. The third level holds the Royal Cult Chapel, Solar Cult Chapel and the Sanctuary of Amun. The exterior of the temple is beautiful and its size is impressive however the interior is defaced, aged and in need of desperate restoration.
Thutmose III came into power after the death of Hatshepsut. He defaced and erased Hatshepsut from all monuments so that her reign would be lost in history. The most accurate reasoning is because she broke away from tradition and named herself pharaoh and she was the first female to do so. Thutmose III had a lot to live up to after her successful reign and he wanted to stop future females from following Hatshepsut’s footsteps. He built his own small temple between Hatshepsut and Mentuhotep II’s temples. Hatshepsut was rediscovered around the 1850s and in 2006 it was proved that she died from an abscess following a tooth extraction in her fifties. Her mummified body was not buried in her mortuary temple but a tomb near the Valley of the Kings. Today, the world knows how well she ruled!
HOW TO GET THERE
There are a few ways to visit the Temple of Hatshepsut. If you’re staying on the west bank you have easy access to the temple and The Valley of the Kings & Queens. If you’re based on the east bank and you have a hire car: You can drive south of Luxor, across the bridge and continue back towards the destination, taking 40 minutes in total. The other option is to take the public ferry from Luxor Temple across the bank for 2EGP and catching a 10-minute taxi to the temple.
You will park or be dropped off at the main car park where the Hatshepsut Visitors Centre is located. This is where you can purchase tickets. The entrance fee to the Temple of Hatshepsut is 140EGP / 9USD / 7GBP / 13AUD / 12 CAD*. Upon exiting the building you will be greeted by Taftafs, an electric train that will take you up to the entrance of the Temple.
WHAT TO BRING
There’s no restaurant at the site of this temple, only vending machines and a covered, open-air building to relax and take in the view. Be sure to bring plenty of water, packed lunch and SunSmart protection. Bring plenty of Egyptian Pounds to cover the entrance fees if you plan to visit Hatshepsut Temple, Valley of the Kings & Queens all in one day. It’s crucial to bring a student card if you have a valid one as it can save you loads on entrance fees across Egypt.
The COLOSSI OF MEMNON
On the way to the temple, you will come by the Colossi of Memnon, two 18-metre high stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. They were constructed in 1350 B.C. to guard his mortuary temple. The Temple of Amenhotep was the biggest mortuary temple in Egypt’s history at the time. Bigger than Karnak Temple. However, in 1200 B.C. it was submerged and buried when an earthquake erupted. All that was left standing were these 2 statues. Excavations and restorations have begun behind the statues to recover the Temple of Amenhotep III. It’s free entry and a good photo stop opportunity.
My previous post, ‘Getting Lost in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak,’ covers travel options to Luxor, the top hotels in the city, the best restaurants for a bite to eat and the must-do to-do list while visiting Luxor.
*Based on currency rates at the time of being published.