Esna is about 485 miles (776Km) south of Cairo and lies on the west bank of the Nile. It was the ancient city of Senat, called Latopolis by the Greeks. The “city of the fish” where the Nile perch was worshipped. Today it is very famous for its river barrage and as a result, it is a stop over for most of the cruise boats. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the centre of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat, through the local market.
To reach the Temple you have to descend a flight of steps, but be careful! They are very steep! The admission fee is LE 20.
The Temple is dedicated to the ram headed God Khnum, the God of creation. Tuthmosis III laid the foundations of the Temple in the 18th Dynasty, but Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors, from 40-250 A.D, completed it, and their names are recorded all over the Temple walls. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns, with 24 pillars, beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. The walls are covered with 4 rows of relief’s, showing Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes, sacrificing to the God of the Temple. On both sides of the Temple entrance there are chambers that were used by the priests and keepers of the Temple as storerooms.
Flanking the entrance to each room, you will notice the Emperor Trajan, carried in a litter by six Priests, with jackal and hawk masks of the Gods.
The most interesting scenes in this Temple are the ones you will find on the roof, which is decorated with astronomical representations. On the left side of the gateway of the Temple you can see the sky Goddess Nut, the Dog Star, Orion’s belt, and Alpha Draconis (or the Dragon Star). On the western wall of the façade of the Temple you can see the God Horus, God of victory, and the God Khnum, dragging a net full of fish from the Nile, as well as relief’s of birds. Significantly at the foot of this representation is the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded, completed by the Roman Emperor Dios in 250 A.D