The Temple of Luxor is located on the eastern side of the Nile River in Egypt and is often referred to as "Ipet Resyt", meaning "Sanctuary of the South." Began in the 15th century BC, its construction took centuries. Yet, the Temple of Luxor remained since then an important and well preserved historic site in Egypt. The temple was declared a World Heritage site in 1979 and is an ideal location for tourists looking to learn more about the rich Egyptian history.
The Temple of Luxor in Ancient Egypt is a series of temples and monuments which were variously built between 1500 BC and 1200 BC during the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egyptian history. It is located on the east bank of the River Nile in the city of Luxor, which was the capital of Pharaonic Egypt for a time in the second millennium BC. Other structures on the other side of the river, such as the temple of Ramses II, known as the Ramesseum, are sometimes included as part of the temple complex at Luxor.
The entryway to the monument is through a pylon guarded by several statues of Egyptian kings and a large 22 metres tall obelisk, a sort of standing pillar on which dedications were often inscribed. The obelisk and some of the statues were added by Ramses II, who is often deemed to have been the greatest pharaoh in Ancient Egyptian history, as he expanded Egypt’s borders into much of Canaan and Palestine. The hieroglyphics on the obelisk narrate beliefs about Rameses’ associations with the Egyptian god Horus. Originally there were two obelisks here. However, one of them was removed during the 1830s and was given to the French nation. It was transported to Paris, where it now stands in the Place de la Concorde. Its continued presence there and debates on whether it should be returned to Luxor have been a matter of some controversy.
Inside the pylon is an avenue of sphinxes, half animal, half human creatures, connecting some of the complex's different parts. Thereafter one enters a number of other temples, including the main sanctuary and a ‘Sun Court’, which was built by the Pharaoh Amenhotep III around 1350 BC. The monument was central to Egyptian royal and political life. It is believed that the pharaohs were crowned here for some time during the second millennium BC and perhaps well into the first millennium BC. It was also central to religious festivals and was used to worship several Egyptian gods and goddesses, such as Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, respectively, the god of the air, the goddess of motherhood, and the god of the moon.
The monument continues to be used for religious purposes. In Late Antiquity, the Romans converted it into a church towards the end of the fourth century AD. Two and a half centuries later, it became a mosque when the Arabs conquered Egypt, which it remains today with the Abu Haggag Mosque being located within the inner temple. Consequently, the Temple is the oldest continuously used religious site on earth. The Temple was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979. Today it is a significant tourist attraction in Egypt as a sound and light show is held at night to light up the temple in the dark.