The entire Dendera Temple complex comprises 430,000 sq. ft. and the Temple of Hathor, the main temple of the complex, is one of the best preserved in Egypt. This is especially impressive since the temple served as a refuge for Bedouins and others as they traveled throughout the country. Archeologists have actually left some of the soot that was created by the fires they lit for warmth and food. As with other temples, it was partially buried in sand. It took years to restore it to its current jaw-dropping beauty.
It's located across the Nile River from the city of Qena, about 50 miles north of Luxor. In terms of Egyptian temples, it's recent, having been built during the Ptolemaic period from about 323 BC to 30 BC.
Hathor was beloved in Egyptian mythology and was the goddess of just about everything: music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care. She spanned the world of the living and the afterlife, helping deceased souls transition to the afterlife.
She is often depicted with the head of a cow representing her maternal and celestial roles. I love her little cow ears!
There are 24 columns in the main hall of the temple. The colors in the temple were stunningly brilliant and well-preserved.
Close-up of part of the beautiful ceiling.
It's just amazing that the colors have survived so long.
Even the less colorful carvings were amazing!
The ankh as pictured below is the symbol of life and is very important in Egyptian history and mythology.
This is Bes, a dwarf god. He was a god of war, but also a patron of childbirth and the home, and was associated with sexuality, humor, music and dancing. Look at his red cheeks!
Bes was among the statues in the row of Hathor statues that greeted us as we entered the site.
The Dendera Zodiac
This bas relief on the ceiling of the temple is considered to be the only complete zodiac map of the ancient world. It was just another incredible aspect of this amazing temple.
We traveled by both plane and car throughout the country. The day we visited Dendera we also visited Abydos Temple for a total of three hours each way. At a certain point, both going and returning, we were given a police escort. This occurred during several different trips by car during our visit. We never felt unsafe in any way in Egypt, but we were told this was for our security.
We saw these towers throughout Egypt. Most of them had a gun sticking out of the opening and from time to time there was a person manning the gun as in the photo below.
There were checkpoints such as this one fairly frequently throughout the country. They always wanted to know our nationality.
➜ Top Tips
Dendera is an easy drive from Luxor. It can easily be a half-day trip, although we'd advise combining it with a visit to Abydos Temple which makes it a day trip.
Take a good camera!