The Hatshepsut temple in Deir el-Bahari

The unique terraced mortuary temple of Hatshepsut suddenly emerges from the Theban hill. Its sand-colored column porticoes almost blend in with the surrounding sandy landscape. This is one of the sights included in our 10 day trip to Egypt or 8-days Egypt tour.

The Hatshepsut Temple is architecturally unusual. It was built in a valley called Djeser-Djeseru - "Holy Place" by the Egyptians. The attention of all visitors to Deir el-Bahari is drawn to the porticoes of the temple, which seem to be carved into the rock. In fact, they are stone pillars constructed with the highest precision and set on two terraces on either side of the centrally running ramp. It leads to the highest terrace, partially opened to the public in 2002. It was badly damaged due to the activities of the Copts, who built a monastery on the ruins of the temple - hence the name of the valley (Deir el-Bahari, in Arabic means the Northern Monastery). The front of the entrance portico, behind which there are a number of columns, is decorated with Osirian statues (representing the ancient Egyptian god Osiris). The passage in the middle leads to an open courtyard. On the surrounding walls, you can see bas-reliefs with images of Hatshepsut as a priest, as well as scenes from the Beautiful Valley festival and the festival of Opet.

The theme of the reliefs is also unique. The most interesting scenes can be found on the walls of the porticoes. All of them refer to the figure of Hatshepsut.

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On the first terrace in the Obelisk Portico, you can see scenes of transporting and setting up two tall obelisks in Karnak, which Hatshepsut had ordered for the glory of Amon. In the hunting portico, the queen looks at the visitors in a formidable version - as a slayer of the forces of nature.

The Portico of Punt is located on the second terrace, which for years has attracted great interest not only among tourists, but also scientists. The local reliefs depict Hatshepsut's journey to a mysterious land, the location of which we are not able to accurately determine today. Researchers speculate that it is located in Somalia, Eritrea or southern Sudan. The reliefs depict sailing on the sea, the characters of the Punts, their queen suffering from obesity, and scenes of offering gifts.

The most important, are the scenes in the Portico of Divine Birth. Hatshepsut confirms her right to the throne and the joint rule with the minor, Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC). Here you can see reliefs showing the divine conception of Hatshepsut and her birth. In the final scene, Amon lifts the child up, recognizing it as his own.

There are two chapels on the same terrace as the porticoes of Punt and Divine Birth. One of them is dedicated to Hathor - the patroness of music and love, also the goddess of Theban hills, and the other to Anubis - the god of the dead depicted with the head of a jackal.

We explore this architectural feat on our Egypt tours. Book your luxury Egypt tour