memorial temple of Ramesses II

In the heart of ancient Thebes, on the west bank of the majestic Nile River, stands a testament to the grandeur and ambition of one of Egypt’s most illustrious pharaohs: the Ramesseum Temple. Built over 3,000 years ago by Ramesses II, this colossal memorial temple has weathered the sands of time, revealing glimpses of a civilization that once thrived along the fertile banks of the Nile.
Approaching the Ramesseum, one cannot help but be struck by the sheer magnitude of its presence. The massive pylons, once adorned with towering statues and intricate hieroglyphs, stand as silent sentinels guarding the secrets of the past. As we pass through the towering entrance, we are transported back in time to an age of unparalleled splendor and opulence.


The Magnificent Ramesseum

The Ramesseum, also known as the Memorial Temple of Ramesses II, is more than just a stone structure; it is a living chronicle of ancient Egyptian history. Its massive courtyard, intricate carvings, and hieroglyphs tell stories of gods, kings, and the afterlife. As we stand before its imposing ruins, we can almost hear the echoes of priests chanting hymns and the rhythmic footsteps of pilgrims seeking blessings.


A Pharaoh’s Ambition

Pharaoh Ramesses II, often referred to as Ramesses the Great, ruled Egypt for an impressive 66 years. His reign was marked by military conquests, architectural marvels, and a fervent desire to immortalize his legacy. The Ramesseum was his canvas—a canvas on which he painted his achievements, victories, and devotion to the gods.


The Ramesseum is the memorial temple of the great warrior Ramesses II.

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The Location of Ramesseum

The Ramesseum is located on the western bank of the Nile River in Upper Egypt, near the modern-day city of Luxor. The Ramesseum specifically lies within the Theban necropolis, an expansive burial ground home to numerous ancient Egyptian temples, tombs, and monuments.


Architecture and Features

The Colossal Statue
At the heart of the Ramesseum once stood a colossal statue of Ramesses II. Imagine a monolithic figure, nearly 20 meters (65 feet) high, carved from sandstone. Its eyes, once adorned with precious stones, gazed across the Nile, watching over the land he ruled. Today, only scattered fragments remain, but they evoke a sense of awe and reverence.


The Hypostyle Hall
While walking through the temple’s remnants, Enter the hypostyle hall, where massive columns stretch toward the heavens. These columns, adorned with intricate reliefs, depict scenes of Ramesses in battle, receiving blessings from the gods, and offering tributes. Each column seems to whisper secrets of a bygone era.
The hypostyle corridor is an exemplary representation of its style, with 48 papyrus-shaped columns in six rows. The central row has tall columns (10 m) with open blossom capitals, while the side columns have closed blossom capitals. The walls and columns are decorated with scenes of rituals and offerings. Two small hypostyle halls with eight columns complete the temple’s architectural remains on the main axis.


The Sanctuary and Chapels
Deeper within the temple, we find the sanctuary, a sacred space where priests conducted rituals and communed with the divine. Here, Ramesses II’s spirit was believed to reside, forever linked to the gods. Surrounding the sanctuary are smaller chapels dedicated to various deities, emphasizing the pharaoh’s piety.


The Ramesseum, is the second-largest temple in all of Ancient Egypt. It took more than 20 years to build, and after Ramesses II's death, worshippers continued to adore him as a living deity.



The temple was built to honor the god Amun and the Theban triad, as shown in the Ramesseum. The carvings also depict other gods worshipped in Egypt. The temple’s decorations also celebrate the king’s role, showing the king in a heroic and positive light. The temple emphasizes Ramesses II’s achievements, including his victory over his enemies and his contribution to Egypt’s salvation.


Most of the military campaigns depicted in the temple relate to Asia, specifically battles for dominance in the Near East against the Hittites. The first pylon displays a confrontation from the year of the war of Kadesh, and the eastern portico of the second courtyard shows the king among his officers. A battle from year eight waged against the cities of Tunip and Dapur is also represented on the wall of the hypostyle hall. The Egyptian-Hittite treaty was engraved on the western wall of the first courtyard, and versions of this treaty from both parties remain, making it likely the first-ever textual representation of this kind known in history.


Purpose and Rituals

The Ramesseum served a dual purpose: funerary and cultic. It was a place of worship, where priests honored Ramesses II long after his mortal journey ended. Elaborate ceremonies, offerings, and prayers ensured his eternal existence in the afterlife. The temple also hosted festivals, celebrating the gods and reaffirming Egypt’s cosmic order.


The Ramesseum After Ramesses II

The Ramesseum was used throughout the Ramesside period (XX dynasty: 1189-1069 BC) and served as a place of worship until the 21st Dynasty (1069-945 BC). The temple annexes attracted a sacerdotal necropolis during the Third Intermediate Period (945-656 BC), and blocks from the Ramesseum were used in the construction of the small temple of Medinet Habu. The monument was also used as a quarry and regained its sacred status as a church during the Coptic period.


Decline and Rediscovery

As dynasties shifted and empires rose and fell, the Ramesseum gradually fell into disuse. Earthquakes, floods, and human neglect took their toll. Yet, the temple’s spirit endured. In the 19th century, intrepid explorers and archaeologists rediscovered its ruins, unearthing its secrets and piecing together its story.


Contemplating Time

As we sit amidst fallen columns and sun-kissed stones, We ponder the passage of millennia. The Ramesseum reminds us that even the mightiest monuments yield to time, yet their essence lingers—an invitation to explore, learn, and marvel at the resilience of human creativity.


What is the Ramesseum famous for?

The Ramesseum, which served as Ramesses II’s funerary temple, is the second-largest temple in all of Ancient Egypt. It took more than 20 years to build, and after Ramesses II’s death, worshippers continued to adore him as a living deity.

How big was the Ramesseum?

The temple was constructed on a massive scale, with the main entrance alone measuring 67m by 183m.

Did Ramses II build the Ramesseum?

Along with hundreds of other structures, monuments, and temples, Ramesses II built the Ramesseum at Thebes, the hall at Karnak, the complex at Abydos, and the temples at Abu Simbel.

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