Society - History
By: - at April 22, 2015

Top 15 Amazing Ancient Egyptian Architecture

Ancient Egypt's impact on later cultures was groundbreaking and advancements made by the Ancient Egyptians were used by almost every western society. Egypt brought us some of the most incredible accomplishments in engineering and architecture. The civilization, which was located in North-eastern Africa, existed around the time of 3150 B and lasted for more than 3000 years. The Empire is viewed as successful because of its amazing infrastructure, long-term continuity, and the impact early Egyptian engineering has made on the modern archeological community.

Giza Pyramids
gizah pyramids
By Ricardo Liberato via Wikimedia Commons

The Ancient Egyptians were also masters of surveying and quarrying, which allowed them to create temples and pyramids. These were also made possible thanks to the Egyptian's amazing understanding of mathematics. Today, many of these temples and buildings remain standing, despite being left to the elements for thousands of years. These are some of the most amazing things designed by human beings, and to this day, scientists are unable to accurately explain how such a primitive society were able to create pyramids so high.

Great Sphinx of Giza and the Pyramid of Khafre

By Hamish2k via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve listed the top 15 structures that came from Ancient Egypt that can still be seen today, ranging from pyramids and status to temples and mortuaries.

15)  Collapsed Pyramid of Meidum
Meidum is the location of the collapsed pyramid, and it is found around 100 km south of the city of Cairo. The pyramid was originally built for Huni, it is thought by modern historians. Huni was the final pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, and the architect who designed the structure is also thought to have been a successor to Imhotep, who is credited with the invention of the stone pyramid design.

Meidum Pyramid
Meidum Pyramid

The architecture modified Imhotep’s design, which is thought to be the reason why the pyramid collapsed. There were two attempts to extend the construction plan while the pyramid was being made, and because of the strange appearance of the Meidum Pyramid, the Egyptians call it el-haram el-kaddab, which means ‘fake pyramid’ in Egyptian Arabic.


14)  Bent Pyramid of Sneferu
The Bent Pyramid can be found at the royal necropolis of Dahshur. This is around 40 km south of the city of Cairo. The pyramid was built under the rule of Pharaoh Sneferu, and was the second pyramid built under this rule. The pyramid is known as the bent pyramid due to its strange shape, and it is a truly unique example of some of the earliest pyramid designs in Ancient Egypt.

The base of the pyramid appears to slant at a 54-degree angle, but as you go higher up the pyramid, the angle becomes 43 degrees, meaning that it is not a true pyramid shape.

Sneferu's Bent Pyramid

By Ivrienen from Wikimedia Commons

It is believed by modern archaeologists that the design of the pyramid represents a form of pyramid that was trying to combine the step pyramid with the smooth pyramid. The structure is partially collapsed, and it is thought that the steepness of the first angle was the cause of instability when it was first made, which is why the shallower angle was adopted part way through the build, in an attempt to save the structure.

Statue of Sneferu
Statue of Sneferu
By Snofru via Wikimedia Commons

The pyramid is also unique because it is the only pyramid with an original polished limestone finish in Egypt. The building also has two entrances, one of which is found at the very bottom of the north side. The pyramid is open to tourists, and each entrance to the pyramid leads to a chamber with a high roof, which later moves onto a number of other chambers. Many rooms have holes in the roof that lead to other rooms, with many hidden doorways and passages that are still being explored.

13)  Mortuary Temple of Giza
The Mortuary Temple of Giza is today open for tourists to see right by the famous Pyramids of Giza  The remains include a large oblong courtyard that is covered in original basalt paving. While it is a great example of ancient Egyptian architecture, it is certainly not in great shape. The temple was nearly destroyed.

Mortuary Temple of Giza

Reconstruction of the temple has been considered in the past, but the plan appears to be far too difficult and would involve destroying too much of the original site for it to be worthwhile. Today, there are reliefs that can still be found on the site, with motifs of the ‘festival of the white hippopotamus’ and the ‘sed-festival’.

The causeway at the Valley of the Kings has also nearly disappeared, and it has only had minimal observation by archaeologists. Originally, the length is thought to have been 810 m.

12)  Lepsius I
Lepsius I, also known as Lepsius Pyramid Number One, is located in Abu Rawash. The name comes from the fact that the first expedition to examine these pyramids, the Lepsius expedition, thought that this pyramid was the northernmost pyramid in all of Egypt. It soon became evident, however, that this was not the case. There is still a lot of speculation about whether or not this structure is in fact a pyramid, and if so, which pharaoh’s regime it was constructed under.

Lepsius I from South East
Lepsius I

Many archaeologists consider the structure to be a small step pyramid, but unlike these step pyramids, the Lepsius I doesn’t have any kind of internal substructure. This leads some to believe that the structure was in fact designed and made to be a tomb.

Lepsius I from North West
Lepsius I

Some archaeologists and Egyptologists, like Swelim, have attributed the structure to Huni, who was a pharaoh of the old Kingdom. No burial pyramid has been located for this pharaoh, leading some to believe that this pyramid was built from mud brick on top of rock, which would have created the appearances of the structure today. It appears that the structure, whether it is a tomb or a pyramid, was made by putting layers of mud brick over rock, and over thousands of years, the mud brick has easily been worn away by the elements.

11)  Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III
The Black Pyramid is also known as the Pyramid of Amenemhat III. This was built by King Amenemhat III between the years of 2055 and 1650 BC. This is one of the few remaining, original pyramids. There are four other original pyramids to be found in Dahshur.

This pyramid was initially called ‘Amenemhet is Mighty’, but was later called the Black Pyramid due to the fact that it appears dark on its exterior. In fact, many compare the appearance of the pyramid with a rubble mound, due to the sheer amount of collapse.

Amenemhat III

By Tekisch via Wikimedia Commons

Originally, this large pyramid was roughly 75 meters tall and had a base that was 105 meters wide. Instead of stone, the pyramid was made of mud brick instead of stone, which is partially to blame for the collapse of the structure.

Underground Chambers of Amenemhet III

By R.F.Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

The structures at the bottom of the pyramid that open up into the area that was once the courtyard, are surrounded by walls. There are two rows of walls and between them there are 10 tombs. The pyramid has a number of wide passageways and numerous structural errors. Just 10 meters above sea level, this pyramid was built in one of the lowest parts of the country, and with so many corridors underneath the pyramid, the building eventually collapsed in on itself. What’s more, groundwater that was seeping from the River Nile began penetrating the walls due to this low elevation. This meant that the mud brick became damaged over time and lost its ability to hold its own weight.

10)  Temple of Hatshepsut
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is a well-preserved example of Ancient Egyptian architecture. The temple, built for Queen Hatshepsut, can be found at the bottom of the cliffs of Deir el Bahari, not far from the Valley of the Kings. The temple was dedicated to Amon-Ra, the sun God of the Egyptians, and was later used as a quarry. The royal architect of the time, who was also the chancellor, oversaw the design and construction of this building. The temple is considered to be the closest that Ancient Egypt ever came to creating ‘classical architecture’, which of course describes a form of architecture similar to what was designed and made by the Greeks and the Romans. Namely, the temple used pillars to support the building and as an aesthetic part of the building, which was not common.

By Wouter Hagens via Wikimedia Commons

In turn, this is one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture to be found from the Ancient Egyptians, as it shows the progression of the design of their buildings, however, today it is thought to look significantly different to its original design. This is blamed on poor reconstruction that took place in the 20th Century.

Temple Relief
Hatshepsut Temple Relief
By MatthiasKabel via Wikimedia Commons

In 1997, the monument became notorious worldwide for an attack by Islamist extremists, where 62 people were massacred.

9)  Luxor Temple Complex 1
The Temple of Luxor can be found right in the middle of Luxor town. This was a temple built during the New Kingdom era of Ancient Egypt, under the rule of Pharaoh Amenophis III. The temple was not completed before the Pharaoh’s death, but was eventually finished under the rule of Ramses II.

Luxor Compex
Luxor Temple
By Omar Shawki via Wikimedia Commons

The temple is now 4,000 years old and is in particularly good condition compared to other temples of a similar age. The temple as an important place for the Ancient Egyptian people to celebrate, and it was here at the Temple of Luxor that there were numerous rituals performed. In fact, the Festival of Opet was held at the template, which is one of the most important festivals in Ancient Egyptian culture. This festival saw a number of statues of every single Ancient Egyptian God and Goddess being brought to Luxor from Karnak. The festival lasted for nearly a month, and the ancient people regularly held these types of events.

Column Sections
Luxor Temple
By Marc Ryckaert via Wikimedia Commons

Even after the fall of the Ancient Egyptian empire, the Romans and Greeks used the temple for other purposes. It was for some time used as a church, and today it remains in use as an Islamic mosque. The building is available for the general public and is a great place to visit during the evening, due to drop in temperature and beautiful sights as the sun sets over the sandy landscape.

8)  Step Pyramid of Djoser
The Pyramid of Djoser is a well-known pyramid of the Ancient Egyptians. At 62 meters high it’s not one of the tallest ever made, but it’s certainly one of the best preserved. The pyramid can be found in Memphic, and was built in the 27th Century, BC. The pyramid was first made specifically for burying the Pharaoh Djoser by the much better known figure, Imhotep.

Pyramid of Djoser
Pyramid of Djoser

The pyramid is found in an incredible large mortuary complex, and it is surrounded by a wealth of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and decorations.

Step Pyramid
By Wknight94 via Wikimedia Commons

Originally, this pyramid had six mastabas, which meant there were six ‘steps’ leading you to the top of the structure. This particular example is thought to be the oldest large-scale example of a cut stone structure in the whole of Egypt.

7)  Luxor Temple Complex 2
The Luxor Temple is one of the most popular attractions for tourists who want to learn about, and experience, Ancient Egypt. The temple is in actual fact a large complex that can be found on the east bank of the River Nile. The complex was made in 1400 BCE, and is known as ‘the southern sanctuary’ in Egyptian.

Within the Luxor Temple complex there are six large temples, and the four on the left bank are called Goomah, Ramesseum, MedinetHabu and Deir-el-Bahri. The complex was made with sandstone known as Nubian Sandstone, which means it was taken from Gebel el-Silsila. This was a common construction stone used in Upper Egypt.

By Ahmadpontymageed via Wikimedia Commons

The same concepts behind Ancient Egyptian architecture applied at this temple, whereby the depiction of a God became that God. This means that a statue designed to look like their God Anubis would in actual fact be Anubis. For this reason, there are depictions of Gods surrounding all of these temples, which make it particularly interesting for those interested in history, religion and architecture. Many of the statues of the Gods still stand today, after thousands of years.

Over the years, dating right back to medieval times, the people of Luxor had settled around the temple and as a result, thousands of years of rubble, waste and dirt had collected over the temple, meaning that it was essentially buried beneath the people living there. It was in 1884 that Professor Gaston Maspero decided to go ahead with the excavation of the temple. Up until 1960, the excavations were being performed and new objects were being found, and now, it is thought that nearly everything of significance has been found in the area. This was a successful excavation given that so much was found, even when roughly 75% of the temple had been covered.

6)  Karnak
Karnak is the name given to the Karnak Temple Complex. This is a large set of temples, pylons, chapels and a range of other buildings made by the Ancient Egyptians in the Middle Kingdom. These buildings were made during the reign of Pharaoh Senusret, and were still being worked on during the Ptolemaic period, though most of the buildings can be dated back to the New Kingdom.

Pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall
By Kurohito via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the complex is a large museum that is open to the public. It is the second largest religion site found in the world, and it is thought to be the most popular place for tourists to visit in the whole of Egypt. It is only the likes of the Giza pyramids that seem to receive a similar amount of attention.

By Marc Ryckaert via Wikimedia Commons

5)  Red Pyramid
The Red Pyramid is also known as the North Pyramid, and it is the biggest pyramid out of the three primary pyramids in Dahshur. The pyramid got its name because of the red bricks that were used to build it, and it is particularly popular for tourists and a common area of study for archaeologists and architects because it is the third largest in the whole of Egypt. At 104 meters high, this is one of the most mesmerizing structures in Egypt that remains standing.

Red Pyramid
By Ivrienen from Wikimedia Commons

Despite it appearing as if the pyramid was made using red bricks, the stone has not always been red in color. In fact, the pyramid was once white, as it was covered with Tura limestone. Very few of these stones remain on the building, however. It is thought that this was an attempt at creating the first ever smooth-sided pyramid in Egypt.

The white limestone did not just fall of the building, however. In fact, during the Middle Ages, most of the stone was removed from the pyramid and taken to be used to decorate buildings in the city of Cairo.

4)  Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is not a specific building, but instead, an area within Egypt where 500 years of construction can be found. From the 16th century BC to the 11th Century BC, a huge number of tombs were made for the Pharaohs that had ruled over the civilization. For this reason, the valley has become particularly interesting for scientists, historians, archaeologists, Egyptologists and architects. The Valley of the Kings is home to the most powerful pharaohs who ever ruled Egypt.

valley of the kings
By Nikola Smolenski via Wikimedia Commons

The valley is found on the west bank of the River Nile. In 2005 and 2008, two new major discoveries were made in the valley, which means we now know of at least 63 tombs to exist in the Valley of the Kings. It was here that most royal figures of the New Kingdom were buried alongside other noble people of their civilization.

valley of the kings
By Nikater via Wikimedia Commons

New finds are particularly exciting as they mean that everything that was buried in the tomb remains there, however, most tombs have already been found and their valuable contents robbed by people over the centuries.

3)  Abu Simbel
The Abu Simbel temples are two large temples made of rock found in Nubia. These temples were not constructed by brick but were instead carved out of the side of mountains. The temples were originally carved during the rule of Pharaoh Ramesses II during the 13th Century, BC. These temples were made in order to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Kadesh. Amazingly, however, the two temples were moved in 1968. The temples were made out of artificial hills above the Aswan High Dam. The relocation was a necessary move as the Lake Nasser was being created. The reservoir was made during the creation of the Aswan High Dam.

Ramesses II
Abu Simbel
By Hajor via Wikimedia Commons

The relocation began in 1959, when international donations were taken to save the monuments from the creation of the lake. Initially, there were proposals to leave the statues underwater as it would stop the desert winds from eroding the rock. There was to be an underwater viewing area, and despite it being incredibly popular, the idea was eventually rejected. Eventually, the temples started being moved in 1964 by a taskforce assembled from experts from all over the world. Engineers and archaeologists worked together to take apart the temple piece by piece, and then put it back together in its new location. The whole process cost more than $40 million.

Abu Simbel
By Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons

2)  Great Sphinx
The Great Sphinx of Giza is generally just known as the Sphinx. This is one of the most iconic statues of the Ancient Egyptians, and is a structure designed to look like a mythical creature that has the head of a human and body of a lion. The Sphinx is made out of limestone and can be found on the west bank of the River Nile. It is generally believe that the face of the Great Sphinx is meant to be the face of Pharaoh Khafra.

Great Sphinx
Great Sphinx
By Barcex via Wikimedia Commons

The Sphinx is one of the oldest statues in the world, but we still do not have definitive evidence to prove who it was made y, and when it was made. The mystery behind the Sphinx has become commonly known as the ‘Riddle of the Sphinx’.

Great Sphinx
By kallerna via Wikimedia Commons

After the area surrounding the Sphinx had been abandoned, the Sphinx was left to the elements and eventually became buried under the desert sand. Photographs from the late 1800s show that it was just the head of the Sphinx that could be seen when it was first documented on camera. There have been many attempts at excavating the statue, with the first documented attempt to have occurred in 1400BC. It is believed that a second attempt at excavating the statue occurred between 1279 and 1213 BC, and later, a modern archaeological dig occurred in 1817 AD. This dig was the first major attempt at uncovering the Sphinx, and it was in 1936 that the statue was finally uncovered. The statue became exposed by unfortunately a large proportion of the headdress fell off due to severe erosion on the neck. The statue is known for its missing nose and beard, too.

1)  Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are also referred to as Giza Necropolis. This is a huge complex of ancient monuments that include the pyramids, as well as the aforementioned Sphinx. The Pyramids of Giza have to be considered the most amazing monuments and pieces of architecture from Ancient Egyptian history due to their notoriety, their huge size and the mystery behind how they were made.


The pyramids are in fact a fraction smaller than the Khafre pyramids, but have become significantly better known as they include numerous satellite monuments. The pyramids surround the Great Sphinx that is today fully exposed, and there are numerous causeways throughout the area. The Giza Necropolis also includes the tomb of Queen Kgentkaues I, which can be found in the Central Field near to the Menkaure pyramid.

By MesserWoland via Wikimedia Commons

Egypt is absolutely packed with some of the largest and oldest monuments in the world, making it not just a great tourist attraction, but one of the most visually stunning places on earth. Many monuments are still being discovered in the likes of the Valley of the Kings, and with the study of Egyptology as popular and significant as ever, there are plenty of riddles still to be solved about this ancient civilization.





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