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Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor

Luxor, Egypt, Africa + Middle East: Hatshepsut Temple, Valley of Queens
West Bank
Egypt's insider take:

Featured on every guided tour, this huge temple—three terraces of colonnades climbing steplike up the base of a towering cliff—was heavily restored in the 1950s. The 18th Dynasty (15th century B.C.) Hatshepsut was one of those rare female pharaohs, and her temple is remarkable not only for its sheer size, dramatic location and astonishingly modern proportions but also for its fine relief carvings on the walls, many of which retain their original colors. The southern middle portico celebrates Hatshepsut's naval mission to Punt, a mysterious land somewhere between the Red Sea and Somalia, to obtain myrrh and other sacred woods. The upper terrace boasts smiling statues of the lady pharaoh. She's astonishingly plump.

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