The Temple of Debod, an Egyptian relic in the center of Madrid

If you like the culture of Ancient Egypt, but you cannot afford a trip to the lands of the pharaohs, you have some very attractive options. If you are in Madrid, you can visit the Temple of Debod, a wonderful relic with 20 centuries of history. But what does an Egyptian temple do in the heart of the Spanish capital? We tell you.

The Debod Temple in its original place

To begin we must travel (even virtually) to Egypt. This way we will understand the origins of this majestic temple that today can be visited in Madrid. It was built in a small Egyptian town called Debod, south of the country and on the banks of the Nile River, at the beginning of the second century B.C. on the orders of the Nubian king Adijalamani de Meroe.

Debod Temple - LucVi

The Temple of Debod was dedicated to the gods Ammon and Isis and linked to other buildings in the area. It has a kind of chapel decorated with reliefs where, it is believed, the monarch spent several hours. Later the kings of the Ptolemaic dynasty built new rooms around the central building.

When Egypt passed into the hands of the Roman Empire, the emperors Augusto, Tiberio and Adriano finished the construction and the decoration of the Temple of Debod. Already the sixth century ceased to be a place of pagan worship and began a stage of abandonment and deterioration.

The "rescue" of the Debod Temple

Debod Temple - LucVi

When the dam of the city of Aswan was built in 1907, the temple spent several months a year underwater. The almost constant floods caused damage to the reliefs and sandstone. The Egyptian Antiquities Service asked an architect to restore the complex.

But the construction of a new dam in the 60s endangered this temple. Egypt requested international help to save it and, finally, it was dismantled and moved to Elephantine Island. In gratitude to the Spanish State for its collaboration, the Egyptian government gave it to Spain.

The construction was taken to the port of Alexandria, from where it traveled to Spain (arrived in 1970 to the Port of Valencia) as separate but well-marked blocks to ensure correct assembly.To “install” the Debod Temple in Madrid, a stone base floor was built, some of the exterior blocks were restored and inside air conditioning was placed so that the atmosphere was always dry.

As a memory of the Nile River, a shallow pond was built along the access road. The reconstruction work took two years, so the opening to the public did not take place until 1972.

Debod Temple Features

The building as we can see today in the center of Madrid has been completely restored and some rebuilt parts. The Debod Temple is made up of a series of rooms and the best time to visit is at sunset.

Interior of the Temple of Debod - works

The main chapel is the oldest part preserved. It is decorated with scenes of the king worshiping the gods Ammon and Isis and making sacrifices. In the access you see an image of Imhotep. All decoration has theological connotations.

Another area is the Mammisi, which means "birth" and refers to the place where the goddess gave birth. It is a room made in Roman times that "breaks" with the symmetry of the temple. It has no inscriptions on the walls and on the west wall it houses a hole that apparently was used to house the image of a divinity.

The other rooms of the Temple of Debod that we can visit are the lobby, the anteros of the naos (Redistribye to the three chapels of the head), the room of the Naoi (central chapel dedicated to Isis and Ammon), the Osiriaca chapel (dedicated to the god Osiris) or the terrace, among others.

"Travel is a part of education in youth and, in old age, a part of experience."

-Francis Bacon-

The Debod Temple is a little gem that is worth visiting if you travel to Madrid, especially considering that it has been closed for conservation work for months.

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