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Are you heading to Luxor? Is the Colossi of Memnon on your list of things to see in Luxor? Don’t miss it, whenever I see it, it just takes my breath away. Here is your guide to visiting Colossi of Memnon in Luxor! Check it out and see why I loved it.

I am wondering how many days are you spending in Luxor? If it is just a couple of days then follow this 2-day itinerary in Luxor that covers 7 major attractions in Luxor that should be on your Luxor bucket list.

If you are looking for more ideas for things to do in Luxor, then look at 18 Things to Do in Luxor. It is a complete Luxor bucket list that will make you wish you had more time reserved for Luxor.

Did you know that there are many incredible places around Luxor to explore? You can quickly leave the city and explore them even just for a day 5 Best Day Trips from Luxor (Maps and Photos).

I am just wondering, where are you going after visiting Luxor? One of the must-see sights when visiting Egypt is the Abu Simbel Temple Complex. It can be easily done as a day trip from either Aswan or Luxor. It is an absolutely amazing place that should not be missed:  How to Visit Abu Sumbel on a Day Trip from Aswan or Luxor

I am sure that the Pyramids of Giza are on your list. However, visiting this vast complex can be overwhelming. Make sure to review Tips for Visiting the Pyramids of Giza before going. And, it is good to know what to see once you get there: 10 Things to See at the Pyramids of Giza.

Ok, now, with no further due, let’s dive into visiting Colossi of Memnon in Luxor:

What Is the Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon is a pair of giant statues made out of quartzite sandstone. Each statue stands about 18 meters high (65 feet) and depicts Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

It is estimated that each statue weighs at least 700 tons. Because of the size, it is speculated that the stone had to be transported from either the quarry at el-Gabal el-Ahmar (near Cairo) or Gebel el-Silsila.

Amenhotep III is seated with his hands resting on his knees. He gazes towards the River Nile.

Next to the legs of the northern statue, a smaller figure of Amenhotep III’s mother Mutemwiya stands. While by the legs of the southern statue, stands the figure of his wife Tiy, as well as one of his daughters, is depicted.

On the side panels of the throne, the Nile god Hapy is depicted tying together the papyrus plant and the sedge plant representing the union of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Who Built the Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon was built during the reign of Amenhotep III, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty (the New Kingdom), during the 14th century BC.

Although they look as if they are standing randomly in the middle of nowhere, they actually used to guard the entrance of the first pylon of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III.

The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III was one of the largest temples built in Egypt.

Unfortunately, the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III was destroyed by the yearly flooding of the River Nile and the gradual re-using of the blocks for other building projects.

Colossi of Memnon in Luxor

Although the Colossi of Memnon look as if they are standing randomly in the middle of nowhere, they actually used to guard the entrance of the first pylon of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III.

Visiting Colossi of Memnon

A Quick Read: 

Amenhotep III built on a grand scale.

The mortuary temple, constructed not far from his tomb, was the grandest of all mortuary temple complexes built in Egypt. It originally included three massive mud-brick pylons, or gates, aligned on a single axis, and a long connecting corridor leading to an immense, open solar courtyard, a roofed hall, a sanctuary, and sacred altars.

The temple contained hundreds of freestanding statues, sphinxes, and massive steles—tombstone-like slabs of stone, once carved with descriptions of Amenhotep III’s building achievements.

The temple complex was enormous. It measured 328 feet (100 meters) wide by 1,968 feet (600 meters) in length, longer than five American football fields placed end to end.

Source: World Monuments Fund

Visiting Colossi of Memnon

Each statue stands about 18 meters high (65 feet) and depicts Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Visiting Colossi of Memnon

Who Was Amenhotep III

Amenhotep was born around 1392 BC and became a pharaoh somewhere between the ages of 6 and 12. He ruled Egypt for almost 40 years.

Amenhotep III’s queen (Great Royal Wife) was Tiy. They had two sons together. Their first son died before Amenhotep III’s death leaving the second son, Amenhotep IV, to succeed Amenhotep III as ruler of Egypt.

Amenhotep IV eventually changed his royal name to Akhenaten.

It is believed that Amenhotep III and his queen Tiy had four daughters together. Their names were Henuttaneb, Sitamun, Nebetah, and Isis (or Iset).

Amenhotep III’s greatest contribution to Egypt was maintaining peace and prosperity.

Many of the most impressive structures of ancient Egypt were built during Amenhotep’s reign. One of the examples is the beautiful Luxor Temple. In addition, we cannot forget all of his contributions to the religious complex of Karnak.

Not surprisingly, more than 250 ancient statues of Amenhotep III have been discovered. It is more than any other Egyptian pharaoh.

The Mortuary Temple was one of the largest temples ever built. What remains today are two giant statues of Amenhotep III known as the Colossi of Memnon.

Colossi of Memnon in Luxor

Amenhotep III’s greatest contribution to Egypt was maintaining peace and prosperity.

Visiting Colossi Of Memnon

Many of the most impressive structures of ancient Egypt were built during Amenhotep’s reign. One of the examples is the beautiful Luxor Temple.

What is the Colossi of Memnon Famous For

The Colossi of Memnon is famous for singing every morning at dawn.

Strabo, a Greek historian, and geographer of the 1st century recorded an earthquake in 27 BC. The earthquake damaged the statues, especially, it shattered the northern figure, causing its upper section to fall away.

Apparently, the damage created a fissure in the rock and hence the singing every morning at dawn.

In addition, it is possible, that the reason why the sound was emitted only in the morning was due to the increase in temperature at dawn, and the evaporation of dew that accumulated in the cracks of the rocks at night.

When the Roman emperor, Septimius Severus ordered to have the statue repaired the sound vanished.

Visiting Colossi of Memnon in Luxor

Apparently, the damage created a fissure in the rock and hence the singing every morning at dawn.

Visiting Colossi of Memnon

The sound emitted from the giant northern statue caused their name being changed from the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III to the name of the legendary Memnon.

In Greek mythology, Memnon was the son of Tithonus, Trojan Prince and Eos, the goddess of dawn. He grew up to be a great warrior. At some point, Memnon became the king of the Ethiopians.

During the Trojan War, Memnon brought an army to Troy’s defense and killed Antilochus during a fierce battle. However, Memnon was challenged by Achilles. Needless to say, Memnon was no match for Achilles and was defeated in a single combat.

It is said that after his death Memnon re-appeared in a statue in Thebes (Luxor) and cried every morning.

Or, another version says that the statues were named Memnon in memory of Eos, his mother, mourning her son.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Visiting Colossi of Memnon in Luxor

  • The best time for visiting Colossi of Memnon is either right at sunrise or after sunset. You will definitely get better pictures during the famous golden hour when the light is so much softer.
  • A visit to Colossi of Memon can be combined with other stops in Luxor. Make sure to check out some of my posts to help you plan your visit to Luxor:

Temple of Hatshepsut – Top Tips for Visiting

7 Best Tombs to Visit in The Valley of the Kings

How to Visit Karnak Temple (9 Things You Can’t-Miss)

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