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Edfu

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Edfu (also spelled "Idfu" and in other ways) is a town in Upper Egypt, 100 km south of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile.

Understand

Edfu is in an irrigated agricultural area, producing sugar cane and pottery. The reason to visit is the Temple of Horus, built from 237 BC. It became buried in deep sand and was therefore virtually intact (along with its inscriptions of royal history) when excavated in the 19th century.

Get in

By train

  • 1 Edfu railway and bus stations (4 km from the temple, east bank of the river). There are cafes and a supermarket nearby.

Trains from Cairo take 10 hr to Luxor then another two hours via Esna to Edfu, continuing to Kom Ombo and Aswan. There are 10–12 per day, so you should be able to avoid an early-hours arrival or departure.

By bus

Buses ply between Luxor and Aswan, frequency in 2020 is not known.

By boat

Cruise boats dock at the 2 river wharf on the west bank. Caleche drivers await the boats: they will ask for LE200 round trip (as of Oct 2018), but try to get them below LE150—that is the whole caleche not per person! If the boat is allowing you 2–2½ hr ashore, do not accept a ride that will only wait for an hour at the temple.

By taxi

Tuk-tuks and taxis, if you can get past the caleche drivers, should not cost more than LE30. They are also available at the railway and bus station.

If you organise a long-distance taxi to get you between Luxor and Aswan, negotiate a stop-off in Edfu, and similarly in Esna and Kom Ombo. They are used to tourists doing that, so any protestation of the difficulty is just a bargaining ploy.

Get around

Walk or take a cab.

See

  • 1 Temple of Horus at Edfu. Daily Oct–May 07:00–16:00, Jun–Sep 07:00–17:00. This complex is the best-preserved ancient temple in Egypt. The sun-deity Horus, usually depicted as a falcon or as a falcon-headed man, was worshiped as one of the chief deities, the son of Osiris. The temple was begun in 237 BCE by Ptolemy III over an earlier New Kingdom structure, and completed almost two centuries later in 57 BCE by Ptolemy XII (father of the famous Cleopatra). You enter through a massive pylon, 36 m high and decorated with reliefs showing Ptolemy XII smiting his enemies. The gateway is guarded by twin giant granite falcons. Adults LE140, students LE70.
  • Tell Edfu, the mound next to the temple, is not much to look at but is archaeologically important. It is the earlier town and its temples, harking back to the Old Kingdom from 2800 BC.
  • 2 St. Pachomius Monastery. A still-active Coptic monastery 4 km west of town.

Do

Sound and light shows are sometimes staged in the temple.

Buy

There are small stores for essentials around the town crossroads. Anything near the temple is overpriced tourist tat.

Eat

There is a string of little eating places along main drag from the Nile bridge to the temple, and south along the river bank. You are probably best going wherever the nurses from the hospital are eating.

Drink

Mint tea is always a good choice in Egypt.

Sleep

  • Horus Hotel, ☏ +20 97 230 3323. Opposite Massa has same quality and price.
  • Massa Hotel, ☏ +20 111 136 0230. A small clean place by the crossroads near the temple. It's on the 4th floor, away from the street noise. Single room LE350.

Go next

  • Kom Ombo, a riverside temple town, is 65 km south of Edfu on the highway to Aswan. Stop off at the Silsila royal quarries on the way—the best are on the west bank.
  • Esna, another riverside temple town, is 60 km north of Edfu on the highway to Luxor.



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