Medinet Habu Temple

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Medinet Habu Temple (معبد مدينة هابو) also known as the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III was an important New Kingdom period temple structure in the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. In ancient times Madinat Habu was known as Djanet and according to ancient belief was the place were Amun first appeared. Both Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III built a temple dedicated to Amun here and Later Rameses III constructed his larger memorial temple on the site.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Egypt > Medinet Habu > Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III


The temple, some 150 m long, is of orthodox design, and resembles closely the nearby mortuary temple of Ramesses II (the Ramesseum). The temple precinct measures approximately 210 m (690 ft). by 300 m (1,000 ft) and contains more than 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) of decorated wall reliefs. Its walls are relatively well preserved and it is surrounded by a massive mudbrick enclosure, which may have been fortified.

Brief History

circa 1150 BCE

European Era
The first European to describe the temple in modern literature was Vivant Denon, who visited the temple in 1799-1801. Champollion described the temple in detail in 1829. Initial excavation of the temple took place sporadically between 1859 and 1899, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. During these decades the main temple was cleared, and a large number of Coptic period buildings, including a substantial Coptic Church in the second court, were destroyed without notes or records being taken.


circa 1150 BCE

First Pylon
The first pylon leads into an open courtyard, lined with colossal statues of Ramesses III as Osiris on one side, and uncarved columns on the other. The temple dates back to the New Kingdom period, and its most famous for its vast amount of well preserved reliefs and massive statues of Ramesses III. The main facade faces the southeast and is asymmetrical. A Ptolemaic Pylon juts out on the right side of the facade. The pylon, recently restored, is brightly decorated with a winged sun-disc.

circa 1150 BCE

"Migdol" Entrance
The original entrance is through a fortified gate-house, known as a migdol (a common architectural feature of Asiatic fortresses of the time). Ramses III had an unusual entrance built for the complex, modeled perhaps on citadels he had seen on military campaigns in Syria. The tower is in the form of a "migdol," a kind of fortified gate house. The complex thus had the look of a fortress since originally it was enclosed by a mud brick wall 35 feet thick and 60 feet high.

circa 1150 BCE

Courtyard of the Feasts
Second Court also known as the 'Courtyard of the Feasts'. When this courtyard was converted to a Christian church the Osiris figures were removed; however, the reliefs were also covered with mud, thus preserving them for posterity.

circa 1150 BCE

Hypostyle Hall
The roof in the hypostyle was originally supported by 24 columns with the eight forming the aisle being thicker. Today only the bases remain. The ceiling was raised over the central aisle, as it was in the Temple at Karnak and the Ramesseum.

Gallery Want to use our images?

See Also


Let's bring some history to your inbox

Starting in November 2023 we will be publishing a monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy