Luxor’s Temple of Karnak is one of the largest in all of Egypt. Dedicated to the god Amun, his wife Mut and their son Khornu, the temple still exudes a grandeur that makes it easy to imagine how the ancient Egyptians worshipped their gods here.
One of the guards takes us up a hidden staircase to a gallery from where we get a panoramic view of the whole temple complex and what lies beyond. We sit down on a low ledge and take in the vast surroundings but also the amazing detail. Those ancient Egyptians really were incredible craftsmen! Every little piece of stone is decorated with hieroglyphs and drawings that have been wrought out of the soft stone. It’s impressive. As I peer at the detail of some of the images, I notice that the kings are always depicted several times larger than the queens, who may just reach the height of the king’s knee. Women’s Lib clearly never reached Ancient Egypt!
Wandering between the huge columns through the various temple spaces is like time travel. Any minute we expect to bump into a pharaoh or see an Ancient Egyptian priest pop out from one of the secret chambers.
Certain parts of the temple are off-limits to visitors in order to protect the antiquities.
But if there is one thing we have learnt since we arrived in Egypt, it is that everything is possible in this country. So I ask a guard whether I can take a photo in one of the ‘forbidden areas’, at the same time handing him a 5 Egyptian Pound banknote. This is called ‘baksheesh’, a form of tipping common between Egyptians that allows taxi drivers, waiters, doormen and guards at the Karnak Temple to earn
something extra in addition to their meagre income. With a broad smile, the guard ushers me into the cordoned-off area. “Of course it is possible to take a photo there my friend!”