The jewel in the crown of ancient Thebes; Karnak is a monumental temple complex, comprising temples, tombs, sanctuaries, obelisks, pylons and kiosks built from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period in the timeline of Ancient Egypt. Developed, destroyed, rebuilt and renovated over 2,000 years, Karnak was used extensively by countless Pharaohs, making it one of the most culturally significant and inspiring buildings in Ancient Egyptian antiquity.
As well as being Thebes’ most architecturally-striking temple complexes, Karnak is also one of its biggest, covering an area of almost a square mile. The site is dominated by the great Temple of Amun-Ra, which, with its awe-inspiring Hypostyle Hall and forest of ancient pillars, remains the largest religious site in world history – an incredible feat, given it is over 3,000 years old.
While Karnak was a principal temple complex throughout much of the Middle and New Kingdoms in Egyptian history, the golden age of the site is associated with the dynasty of the great Theban Triad – a divine trio consisting of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The Triad was beloved throughout the 18th-25th dynasties of the Middle and New Kingdoms, and much of the Karnak temple complex is dedicated to these three divine figures of the ancient world.
Monumental in every sense of the word, Karnak remains one of the most beloved heritage wonders of Egypt, attracting millions of curious visitors each year.
Here are some of our favourite facts about the site which emphasise its momentous size, scale and significance: