The Temple of Dendera dates from 380 BC is one of the best-preserved temples of ancient Egypt. This cult site was known as the House of Hathor and is dedicated to this Goddess of healing, joy, feminine love, birth and motherhood. While strongly connected to the divine feminine through Hathor, Hathor translates loosely to the ‘House of Horus.’
This indicates that Dendera is a remarkable site of Yin Yang balance that respects the importance of both the masculine and feminine divine, making this an appropriate place to embrace the universe’s creative forces and experience rebirth. Furthermore, this was a sacred site of healing, and patients traveled from far and wide to receive curative treatments, regenerate and ‘rebirth’ their wellbeing and commune with the gods while resting.
Sights to Behold at Dendera Temple
Covering 40,000 square meters, Dendera is a substantial site to explore. In addition to a dry—yet fascinating—sacred lake, there are several temples including a Sanatorium, the Roman Mimmisi, Isis Temple and the Temple of Hathor. The striking colors throughout the temple grounds are all original and amazingly vibrant. Here are some highlights of this powerful sacred Egyptian site.
The Sanatorium at Dendera
While in modern cultures this is a place for the mentally unwell, the ancient Egyptians’ version is essentially a healing spa where the ill would visit to be cured by the goddess. There were sleeping quarters, healing waters and priests of Hathor’s cult would prescribe and dispense remedies here. An inscription upon a statue amid the sanatorium implies that water poured over the sacred texts on the temple statues transformed into a cure-all for various ailments.
Dendera’s Roman Mammisi
The mammisi were devoted to the local goddess and her offspring, and this goddess was most often Isis who is considered the mistress of the birthing house. The mammisi at Dendera was erected by Nectanebo I and is where the union of the god and goddess and the birthing of their child was celebrated. Here is where Hathor’s priestesses gathered to bring forth new life thousands of years ago.
The Sacred Lake at Dendera Temple
While it’s called a sacred lake, it is still questionable as to whether water was actually here or if it was a ‘lake’ in the true sense of the word. This rectangular 32×27 meter space is located on the southwest side of Hathor’s Temple and surprisingly is lush with palm trees and a few surprises. One can descend into the bottom via four staircases along the lake’s walls where there are mysterious windows and underground crypts.
The Temple of Hathor at Dendera
Naturally, this is the most spacious and elaborately decorate temple amid these ruins. This space is a visual masterpiece with a grand entrance, detailed carvings, mystical hieroglyphs and a jaw-dropping ceiling laden with the Dendera zodiac recalling Egypt’s origins. Within the underground crypt is a relief wall featuring the famed Dendera lightbulb and the most detailed depiction of Horus discovered to date.