Pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for more than 20 years. She was the longest reigning female in Egypt’s history, and considered one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs. During her reign, unlike other rulers of the 18th dynasty, she was more interested in ensuring economic prosperity, and building and restoring monuments throughout Egypt.
One of the most important and best known is the Deir el-Bahri Temple Complex which includes Queen Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple – Djeser-Djeseru (Sublime of Sublime) regarded as one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt and perhaps of the world. It has been built against the backdrop of the high lime stone cliffs on the west bank of the river Nile, near the Valley of the Kings. And its majestic columns and terraces become one with the mountain when the sun rises and its golden glow covers the valley and temple.
Year around thousand of tourists come to visit Queen Hatshepsut – but their overwhelming numbers milling around like ants make it impossible to feel the peace and serenity embedded in this valley.
On several of my visits I have been one of the swarms of tourists, but even then it never failed to give me a WOW moment. But on my last visit I learned what WOW really means – it is seeing Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple without, except for the guards, another human being.
One morning we were part of a group visiting the Polish excavation team, which was working on the left side of the temple. In order to avoid the heat of the day, the men start their work very early in the morning. The taxi dropped us off at 6.15 am and a guard let us in – the sun was up and as much as I was interested in seeing the excavation process, I stood frozen in place at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the first terrace – the stillness, the size, its splendor, and the mystery of the woman who had created it was paralyzing.
Two days later good fortune struck again. My friends and I were invited to visit the Metropolitan Dig House, situated close to Queen Hatshepsut’s temple. It had been built to accommodate the American team during the temple’s excavation.
We arrived around five o’clock, just when the site was closing and all tourists had left. The setting sun already hiding behind the high cliffs left the temple in dark shadows pushing it further into the mountain behind it…….…and the openings between its columns were like eyes sitting deep in their sockets hiding something the world will never see.
I left the party and went outside to see the temple one more time before darkness was going to swallow it up – and sitting on one of the an ancient stone I was carried away into another world – a world with an ancient civilization and a female Pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut. Her reign has fascinated the world for thousands of year and will do so for eternity.
More from Egypt soon