Kom Ombo is a very unique temple in that it deviates from the standard triangle shape and is symmetrical along the center axis in order to serve as a temple for 2 sets of gods. While we may not have had the best experience getting to and from this temple, once we were there it was one of the most fascinating temples to learn about due to the detailed depictions of the gods and references to early surgery and medical work. It’s one of the newer temples built sometime between 180-47 BC but still incredibly impressive in height and scale.
The location of Kom Ombo
The temple is located RIGHT on the water next to the Nile river almost halfway between Aswan and Luxor. (closer to Aswan) The city surrounding it would have been predominantly a trade city as its portion of river travels between narrow sandstone canyons leaving little flooding planes for farming and agriculture.
*You literally walk from your cruise ship right up to the entrance to the temple in 5 minutes.
About Kom Ombo
The first and more interesting god the temple is dedicated to is Sobek, the god of fertility and creator of the world (local belief). Sobek is depicted as a crocodile and was a more localized religion. He was worshipped greatly by the surrounding area and over 300 crocodile mummies have so far been found in nearby tombs.
The art depictions within the temples court yard depict Sobek with the other prevalent gods of the time which leads to the other half of the temple which is dedicated to Horus to tie into the universal beliefs of the time.
Interesting Temple advancements
Some cool things in the temple included a voice amplifier that a priest could speak into and be heard throughout the large temple complex. This was thought to be included here as at the time of this temple being built, religions and beliefs had begun to wane so priests spoke into the amplifier to make it seem as though the gods themselves were speaking to those in the temple.
There are several small rooms along the back section of the temple and a hallway which is thought to depict early medicine and surgery with many medical instruments like forceps, scalpels, scissors, and dilators. There’s also a section on child birth involving the numerous gods of fertility. This gives a light to the temple that not only did people come to worship gods but some came to be cured of ailments and viewed the temple as sacred for healing.
The Crocodile Museum
The crocodile museum is a cool little museum included with your ticket and within the Kom Ombo temple complex. It’s home to several mummified Nile river crocodiles that were discovered in the region. The museum is small and will only take a few minutes to check out on your way back. Don’t miss it.
Our experience at Kom Ombo
While overall we were very impressed and had a great time taking photos within Kom Ombo we were simply overwhelmed by the shop sellers outside of this temple. (It was the worst we visited) The temple itself is magnificent and we had probably 1.5 hours of guided tour and wandering within its walls just before sunset. Despite the overzealous hawkers, I’d still consider it a must see and the truth is in the photos. (Apologies in advance for the extreme photo dump)
Beware the shopkeepers
From the second we stepped off the cruise ship for the 5 minute walk to the temple entrance we each had 4 different people in our face trying to sell us stuff like jewelry and scarves. Even once we were in the temple complex they were calling after us until we were out of sight.
Then as we were leaving, we had the same people hounding us to buy stuff for the longer walk back to the ship. I had sellers grabbing my arms and pull me into see their shop stands no matter how many times I said no I didn’t want anything. Eventually I pressure bought a dress and they still hounded us all the way back to the ship- draping scarves and necklaces on us that we just had to let drop to the ground or they’d not take it back.
Needless to say we heaved a huge sigh of relief once we were back on the boat.
Nothing is free
Within the temple walls we also had the usual guys trying to get tips for being in photos but otherwise we avoided them and they took the hint we didn’t want to deal with them quicker than the shop guys did. All in all, it was an incredible temple and I loved being there close to sunset but we left with a rather sour taste of the overall experience.
Sailing away from Kom Ombo
*This was all made up for by a very peaceful sunset sailing on from Kom Ombo to our morning destination of Edfu. The sun set around 6:30 PM and dinner was at 7:30 so we had plenty of time to enjoy the bird song, evening prayers sounding off in cities along the river, and people watching as locals finished their working day fishing or swimming in the river as we floated by. I STRONGLY recommend going to the top deck of your boat when sailing out of Kom Ombo to marvel at its position on the river and enjoy the scenery.