The Karnak Temple Complex or simply Karnak , located near Luxor, Egypt , is the largest ancient religious site in the world and one of the most magnificent temple complexes ever constructed . It is believed to be the second most visited historical site in Egypt, second only to the Giza Pyramids near Cairo.
Karnak comprises a many ruined temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amen and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Ramses II (1391 BC). An ancient sacred lake is part of the site as well.
The whole 200 acre complex of Karnak was built to honor the gods Amun (sun deity) , Montu and Mut, and to record the king’s conquests and history. Construction started in the period known as Middle Kingdom, and continued for about 2,000 years. The major difference between the Karnak Temple and other sites in Egypt is how long the temple took to develop, as well as how long it was used. The construction of the temple started during the 16th century B.C. About 30 pharaohs gave a contribution to the buildings, which enabled it to reach a diversity, complexity, and size that isn’t seen anywhere else in the world. There aren’t many unique individual features of Karnak, but the number and size of the features are amazing.
Karnak consists of massive pillars, towering columns, avenues of sphinxes, and a remarkable obelisk that stands 97 feet tall and weighs 323 tons. The Great Hypostyle Hall, one of the largest single chambers ever built, covers an area of nearly 54,000 square feet. The entire Cathedral of Notre Dame could fit comfortably within its walls.
In the center of the complex is the Temple of Amun. To the north is the Temple of Montu and to the south is the Temple of Mut. There are several other smaller temples dedicated to other gods, but the central theme of the entire complex is to pay homage to Amun.
Karnak is the second most visited historical site in Egypt. The area of the temple is an enormous open-air museum, as well as the biggest ancient religious site worldwide. It consists of four main parts , of which only the largest, the Precinct of Amun-Re, currently is open to the general public. The three other parts, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV, are closed to the public.
There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries located outside the enclosing walls of the four main parts, as well as several avenues of goddess and ram-headed sphinxes connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amun-Re, and the Luxor Temple.