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The temple of Kom Ombo

The temple of Kom Ombo

The temple of Kom Ombo was built during the reign of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, in the Egyptian city of Kom Ombo. Built between 1350 and 180 b.C. by order of Ramses II. The deity of the temple is Sobek, a god with a crocodile head and a human body. Later, since the inhabitants did not like having a deity that represented evil, they added another god to the cult, Haroeris (Horus the Elder). The building is unique because of its double design, which means that there were duplicate entrances, patios, rooms, chapels, and sanctuaries for the gods Sobek and Haroeris.

Where is the Kom Ombo temple located?

The temple of Kom Ombo
The temple of Kom Ombo

The Kom Ombo Temple is located in southern Egypt in the city of Kom Ombo, Aswan Governorate.

The reason for the name of the temple:

The temple of Kom Ombo
Panorama view of the temple of Kom Ombo

The name Kom Ombo is divided into two parts:

  • The first part: “Kom,” which means “hill.”
  • The second part: is “Ombo,” which is a distorted form of “Anbu” or “Nebo” and its meaning is “Gold.”

In ancient Egypt, this city was important because it controlled the routes of the commercial caravans that went to Nubia through the valley of the Nile. It was for that reason that all the powers that at some time controlled the country, maintained a military fortification in Ombos.

The god of the Kom Ombo Temple was Sobek, shaped like a crocodile. It is believed that he was deified because crocodiles were abundant in this area of the Nile River.

Over the years, the people of this village were not so keen on being associated with a god who represents evil, so they added another god, Haroeris (Horus the Old), as his brother and partner in the temple cult.


The temple of Kom Ombo
Top view of temple of Kom Ombo

In the past, the temple was between the trade routes of the Nubian people and the gold mines in the eastern desert.

Later, it was used to train the wild animals that Ptolemy VII used in his war against the Seleucid empire, and it was also built during his rule.

The spot where the temple was built was a favorite place for crocodiles to sunbathe on the banks of the Nile, so it makes sense that it is now dedicated to the crocodile god.

Some changes were made later, like when Ptolemy the Seventh added the hypostyle hall between 51 and 47 B.C. and Trajan, emperor from 53 to 117 AD, added the forecourt and outer walls.

Description of the temple of Kom Ombo:

The temple of Kom Ombo
Walls with pharaonic inscriptions in the temple of Kom Ombo

The Kom Ombo Temple is considered one of Egypt’s most important tourist and archaeological monuments in terms of its architectural and religious distinction. The temple appears as consisting of two parts, separated by an imaginary line:

Where the northern part was to worship the Holy Trinity of Horus and the southern region for the worship of the sacred Sobek.
The temple contains:

  • A large group of historical scenes, including the goddess Maat, the goddess of truth and justice.
  • And a group of ancient surgical and medical tools used by the great Egyptians.
  • And the list of Egyptian holidays that were held in the temple.

It is a double temple, with one side for Sobek and the other for Horus. Each side is dedicated to a different god.

The two sanctuaries are almost the same size and shape, making them look like twin temples.

Some changes were made later, like when Ptolemy added the hypostyle hall between 51 and 47 B.C.

Also, the forecourt and outer walls were built during the reign of Emperor Trajan between 53 and 117 AD, and it was thought that Cleopatra’s father,

Ptolemy XII, built the temple’s entrance gate. The Ptolemaic pharaohs, like Cleopatra VI, painted scenes of them giving gifts to the gods over and over again on the walls of the temple.

The outer hall of the hypostyle

The temple of Kom Ombo
Outer hall of Kom ombo

The central part of the Kom Ombo temple is the hypostyle hall, which has fifteen columns with lotus flower capitals and images of the sun.

The bases of the columns are decorated with lilies, which represent upper Egypt, and papyrus, which means the Nile delta.

The roof, on the other hand, is decorated with flying vultures. Egyptian pharaohs linked themselves to gods to make it seem to their people that gods had chosen them as kings.

For example, Ptolemy XII is shown on the outside and inside walls of the temple being cleansed by Horus and crowned by Haroeris.

Other carvings show his offerings to the same gods, along with Sobek, Isis, and a lion god. West of the outer hypostyle hall is a large circle called the “sacred wall.”

It was used to measure the depth of the Nile. Nearby, crocodile mummies were found in a small pool where sacred crocodiles were raised.

The hall inside the hypostyle

The temple of Kom Ombo
Inner hall of Kom Ombo

Inside the hall are ten thin columns with carvings of Ptolemy II making sacrifices to the gods while his brother sacrifices Haroeris at the back of the hall.

Sobek is painted on the south wall, and Ptolemy II is shown getting the victory sword from Haroeris while his wife and sister look on in the southwest corner.

In between the back doors is a list of the temple’s gods and festivals, written in hieroglyphics. After the hypostyle halls, three vestibules were decorated by Ptolemy VI.

The first one shows the god of writing, Sheshta, measuring the temple’s foundation. The second vestibule was only for priests and had a room for storing sacred books and papyrus.

The walls had dedications to the god Sobek and gifts for Haroeris.

The Temple of Kom Ombo is very similar to the Temple of Edfu and the Temple of Philae from the inside, in terms of architecture and design, as there is a front yard, columns,

statues, and inner halls until it reaches the thresholds of the Holy of Holies. Inside the temple, several inscriptions and drawings show the ancient pharaonic life and religious rituals that the

ancient Egyptians performed to worship the gods.

Facts about the temple of Kom Ombo:

The temple of Kom Ombo
Temples inside Kom Ombo
  • The temple stands on a promontory at a bend in the Nile, at the northern end of the widest area of ​​farmland, which is south of Gebel Silsila.
  • It was a flourishing city in the Ptolemaic period to which almost all its monuments date back.
  • The temple was built for the deities Sobek and Horus and the oldest king whose name appears on the temple is Ptolemy VI (Philometor) although almost all the decoration was completed under Ptolemy XII (Auletes).
  • The entrance door and others are partially destroyed and washed away due to their proximity to the Nile. The main temple is surrounded by two stone walls, so it has two deambulatory. Two chambers and a central access staircase were embedded in the back wall of the inner wall.
  • The Temple is unique in its design since it actually consists of two symmetrical temples aligned along a longitudinal axis and every detail of the construction is reproduced identically in each of them. It has two pylons, two entrances, two courtyards, two hypostyle rooms, and two sanctuaries. The reason is that on one side the god Horus was worshiped and on the other side Sobek was worshiped.
  • The one dedicated to Haroeris is located to the north and the one dedicated to Sober is located to the south of the complex. In both, you can still see the black diorite tables dedicated to the offerings. This temple was called “House of the Crocodile” and “Castle of the Falcon”.
  • There are two triads in the temple, one is attributed to Haroeris, his wife Tasenetnefret, and his son Panebtawy, and the other is attributed to the god Sobek, Hathor, and Junsu.


If you come up from the river, one of Egypt’s most famous sights is the Great Temple of Kom Ombo’s tall columns rising dramatically above the Nile’s bank.

Kom Ombo is 47 kilometers north of Aswan and 168 kilometers south of Luxor. It is a sleepy agricultural backwater surrounded by sugar cane fields. This temple to the gods Sobek and Haroeris is a reminder of how important this area was to Ancient Egypt because it was right on the Nile.

Don’t miss booking our Edfu & Kom Ombo Tour