Madinet Habu is located in Luxor’s West Bank and is the memorial temple of Ramesses III. At its height, the complex housed temples, storage rooms, workshops, a royal palace, and housing for officials and priests. Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III also added buildings here, and the village surrounding it was occupied right into the Christian era.
The Temple of Amun was built by Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III, but then superseded by the ornate Funerary Temple of Ramses III. It was largely inspired by Ramses II’s funerary temple, the Ramesseum, which is also on the West Bank.
You enter the site through the Syrian Gate, modelled after a Syrian fortress. You will see images of the pharaoh defeating his enemies, reminiscent of the wars between the Egyptians and Hittites. On the first gateway, you see yet more glorious war deeds. Look out for the Libyans who wear long robes, side-locks and beards. The scribes count the enemy war dead by counting hands and genitals.
To the left of the first courtyard, you find the Pharaoh’s Palace, with the Royal Harem at the back. The Window of Appearances allowed the Pharoah to show himself to his people.
The second Gateway show Ramses III showing off his prisoners of war to Amun and his vulture-goddess wife, Mut. There is also an early Christian basilica here and a small sacred lake. Madinet Habu is best visited in the late afternoon when the light softens. It is certainly worth adding a night in Luxor on your tour of Egypt, as this temple is often missed if you board a Nile Cruise straight away.