Be a Friend and a Guide

Edfu, Egypt

A message resented as graffiti on a wall in the town of Edfu reads 'Be a friend and a guide for the tourist'
Be a Friend
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Touring Egypt 11: Let’s take a break from Cairo. Today we jump ahead to Edfu, a town and temple site not too far from Aswan, near the southern end of Egypt’s Nile River. Most cruises from Luxor to Aswan will stop here, and tourists of a mind to do so can tour the temple. (Needless to say, we were so inclined.)

In Edfu the tourists are transported from the cruise ship to the temple site via horse-drawn carriage, which leaves plenty of time to look around and get a feel for the town. Being an English-speaking tourist, the painted message on the wall (photo above) particularly spoke to me. I think the point and purpose is clear, and it does make one feel welcome. The people here all seem friendly and open as elsewhere in Egypt, so I had to wonder if the message is there to counteract some issue, or just as a general statement (mainly for the passing English-speaking tourists). Either way, it mostly works.

“Be a friend and a guide ….” It is a sentiment that could apply to just about anyone, anywhere, isn’t it?

The outer pylon at Edfu Temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus, shows scenes of Ptolemaic pharaohs smiting their defeated enemies
Edfu Temple
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Edfu temple is a relatively minor site in the firmament of Egyptian antiquities, but it is particularly well-preserved and striking. One reason it is in such good shape is that this is not one of the truly ancient temples, but actually among the last ever built. This temple is Ptolemaic — built in the very last Egyptian dynasty, which overlapped with the Roman occupation of Biblical times. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus and its outer wall (pylon) is decorated with fairly typical scenes of the pharaoh, victorious, smiting his defeated enemies. Apparently, this was a time-worn and honored tradition; judging from walls of temples from all dynasties spread across the Nile River valley, there was a lot of smiting in ancient Egypt.
A tourist pauses in a doorway between chambers, dwarfed by the passage between temple walls within the Edfu Temple in southern Egypt
Edfu Temple has been carefully preserved and partially restored. It is among very few that still has an intact roof structure in the inner temple. With the roof in place and helped by dramatic artificial lighting inside the temple, one really can see the scale of these edifices. The visitor gains some pale sense of what must have gone into building them and how awe-inspiring they must have been to visitors in the age when they were built and used. Deep in the inner chamber, the funerary boat is in place as it would have been in ancient Egypt, waiting until it would be needed to transport pharaoh to the afterlife.

New or old, reconstructed or original, Edfu Temple is very impressive and well worth a visit. And like most Egyptian towns with tourist attractions, the people you will meet are friendly, welcoming, and always ready to assist (and make a quick sale).

The funerary boat awaits pharaoh in the inner temple at Edfu, Egypt
Come Sail Away…
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(First photo [tourist message]: Nikon D200, Nikkor zoom at 32mm, ISO 400, f/10 at 1/320 sec.)

(Second image [the temple wall]: Nikon D200, Nikkor wide-zoom at 15mm, ISO 400, f/16 at 1/200 sec. with polarizing filter.)

(Small inset image [tourist in the doorway]: Nikon D200, Nikkor prime 35mm, ISO 400, f/2, 1/45 sec. using natural light, no flash.)

(Last image [funerary boat]: Nikon D200, Nikkor prime 35mm, ISO 400, F/2, 1/13 sec. using natural light, no flash.)