Are you planning a trip to Egypt and wondering which ancient monuments are worth visiting? Look no further than the Queen Hatshepsut Temple! Located in Luxor, this desert tomb near the Valley of the Queens is truly impressive, not just for its size but for the quality of the build.
As someone who has visited this incredible site, I can confidently say that it was one of my favourite places in all of Egypt.
The impeccably built structure is a start contracts to the steep rock cliffs behind. The uniformity of the tomb compared with the rough face of the rock is quite a juxtaposition.
Whether you're an avid history buff or simply someone who appreciates incredible architecture, the Queen Hatshepsut Temple is a must-see destination that deserves a spot on your Egypt bucket list. And in this travel guide, I'll provide you with all the information you need to get there and fully immerse yourself in the experience!
About Queen Hatshepsut
All the way around Egypt, Haytham our guide kept talking about the Queen Hatshepsut (asking us to remember “hot chicken soup” as a way of remembering her name). While her relevance in the Egyptian history was starting to resonate around this time, once we got to the temple it all became so much clearer.
Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I, who was an Egyptian king. Hatshepsut maintained her royal linage by marrying her half brother Thutmose II when she was probably around 12 years old. Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had one daughter Neferure and it was thought she was then unable to have any more children. Giving birth at 12 might do that to you!
How did Hatshepsut became pharaoh? When Thutmose II died she became Queen regent and acted on behalf of her stepson Thutmose III who was at that time a very young child. She did end up becoming a pharaoh and was responsible for greatly extending Egypt's trade with other civilizations. It is said that she commanded trading trips as far afield as what is currently Eritrea which brought Ivory, skins and gold back to Egypt.
As pharaoh, Hatshepsut approved the building of the Temple of Deir el-Bahri, located in western Thebes, where she would be buried. In later life she was often depicted (at her own request) as a male with a beard and male muscles. Her death is now thought to have been caused by a carcinogenic skin lotion which gave her bone cancer. She is thought to have been in her early to mid 50's when she died.
Visiting Queen Hatshepsut's Temple
So Queen “Hat Cheap Suit” (my version of hot chicken soup), was quite the woman. It seems that in ancient Egyptian culture, it mattered not at all if you were a male or female ruler. If you were royal you were royal – Queens held no lesser power than Kings. Providing of course I have understood that correctly.
I know that today's Egyptian customs and culture has been formed by the wide and varied influences that this region has experienced in its life, however I have since wondered how a culture that once held women in exactly the same regard as men has evolved to be primarily a Muslim culture, in which traditionally men are considered to be far superior to women. That's just me mulling it over though….
The temple is a truly magnificent building. The sight lines are so clean. The pillars are so defined. The size is astounding, but most of all the quality is amazing. It did make me wonder though if the “roman columns” we all know were maybe originally an Egyptian thing that was taken back to Rome, or alternatively if an Egyptian brought the concept back to Egypt after returning from the Mediterranean. This building is just one of the impressive structures that resulted from the Hatshepsut building programs that she instigated during her rule.
You can easily forget how intrinsically linked these areas all are. The Mediterranean sea is not exactly vast and of course travellers must have been coming and going for years, way before records were kept so I guess its possible that the roman colonnades were actually fashioned after an Egyptian building technique. Again, just me wondering…
The Mortuary Temple, otherwise known as Deir al- Bahri, seems to just appear out of the desert and weirdly while its clearly man made in a surrounding of harsh desert, somehow it fits.
It is one of Egypt’s finest and most photographed monuments, and the juxtaposition of Temple Vs Desert is probably one the reasons its so appealing. You feel like you should expect a classical style Mortuary Temple in the middle of that desert. I can't explain it, as impressive as it is, it does feel like it belongs there at the same time. I guess the feeling is that it was carved out of the hillside so that may be why it feels that way.
Some Features Of Queen Hatshepsut's Temple
- The temple is a complex of buildings rather than one single construction. This includes three terraces connected by ramps, and a colonnaded courtyard with columns featuring lotus and papyrus motifs. The architecture is a blend of traditional Egyptian and Greek styles.
- The temple faces the Eighth Pylon of the Temple of Karnak which Queen Hatshepsut added during her reign.
- Decorations: The temple is decorated with reliefs and inscriptions depicting scenes from the life of Queen Hatshepsut and various gods and goddesses.
- The temple originally featured numerous statues of Queen Hatshepsut, many of which have since been destroyed or removed.
- The temple also included extensive gardens with trees and exotic plants, as well as pools and fountains.
- The temple disappeared from later Egyptian history and didn't appear in modern records again until the early 1700's. Excavation begun in the mid 1800's and was finished by 1906.
- The temple has undergone extensive restoration and conservation efforts in recent years to preserve the site for future generations.
- The Portico is lines with an external row of square columns, while the internal row has octagonal columns.
Interesting Note: Cleopatra who is commonly thought to be the only female ruler of ancient Egypt (incorrectly) didn't rule until over 14 centuries after Hatshepsut.
How long should I allow for the temple?
I would allow at least 2 hours. You can do it in one, however if you really want to see the temple, walk around its perimeter and spend time on the hieroglyphs you will probably spend closer to 2 hours here.
Most visitors do this temple in combination with a Valley of the Kings tour and while it does get busy, I don't think this location is somewhere where you would deliberately try to avoid the crowds. It is one of the places in Egypt where people really give your photos scale and its big enough not to be a challenge with a decent number or tourists on site.
Entry Hours and Ticket Information
The temple is open from 6am to 5pm every day. Check the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism website for updates.
Ticket prices are very affordable.
Adults are 160 Egyptian Pound / Students 80 Egyptian Pound
(160 EGP was juts under $8 AUD in Dec 2022)
Egyptians are 40 Egyptian Pound / Students 20 Egyptian Pound
Mortuary Temple Of Hatshepsut Tours From Luxor
I would as always recommend getting a guide for any historical site. Some Get Your Guide tours from Luxor are listed below and usually include the Valley of the Kings as well. Its easy to do both in a day and is a great use of time.
I personally wouldn't recommend trying to find a driver and guide just off the street as they can be quite “persistent” and often you get taken to other shops and factories you don't want to visit. Not always and if you are staying at a decent hotel, ask them if they could recommend a driver for the day but be sure to let them know you don't wish to visit anywhere else apart from your chosen locations.
I hope you will enjoy Queen Hatshepsut's temple as much as I did. It was one of my favourite tombs in all of Egypt and I must admit I really liked both her achievements and her style!
Check out my Egypt Destination Page for all the info, posts & places to visit in Egypt.