Sun illuminates sanctuary of Egypt's ancient Karnak Temple

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

The event marks the winter solstice, the shortest and day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere

Karnak temple
Tourists take photos of solar alignment at the ancient Karnank temple in Luxor, Egypt, Tuesday, December 22, 2015 (Photo: Eman El-Hwari)

A shaft of sunlight illuminated on Tuesday the usually dark sanctum of the Karnak temple, an ancient complex in the southern city of Luxor, in a rare astronomical phenomenon that happens twice a year.

Around 1500 tourists gathered to watch the spectacle that has endured for thousands of years of Egyptian history.

Photos showed a golden beam of light piercing the centre of the avenue of Sphinxes that lead to the Temple of Amun at the Karnak temple, one of the most popular sites from the Pharaonic era.

Provincial governor, Mohamed Badran, said the event has become one of the most important tourist affairs of the year, adding that a variety of archaeological and entertainment activities will ensue in the coming months.

The spectacle usually draws thousands of tourists to the famed site to watch the ancient tribute, which occurs twice a year to mark the summer and winter solstice.

Egypt's vital tourism sector has struggled to recover since the 2011 uprising that ousted the longstanding autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

A Russian plane crash over Sinai in late October further hurt the vital industry, a main pillar of the country's economy. 

Egyptologists say the solar alignment at the God Amun sanctum at Karnak coincided with the illumination of his sanctum at the Hatshepsut's temple near the Nile town of Luxor. Archeologists say the phenomenon lasts for three day.

The event marks the beginning of winter solstice, an astronomical event that occurs in the northern hemisphere marking the longest night and shortest day of the year.

On Monday, the sun illuminated the sanctum of the Karun Palace temple at dawn in Fayoum, south of Cairo, lighting the sacred room for a short period of time.

Karnak temple
Solar alignment at the ancient Karnank temple in Luxor, Egypt, Tuesday, December 22, 2015 (Photo: Eman El-Hwari)


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