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Templo de Debod: A piece of Egypt in the heart of Spain

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Temple of Debod at sunset.

Did you know you could find an ancient Egyptian temple right in the heart of Spain? Well, you can!

Situated in the Parque del Oeste (West Park), right next to the royal palace in Madrid is the Templo de Debod (Temple of Debod) and not only is it one of the few pieces of ancient Egyptian architecture found outside of Egypt, but it is the only one of its kind in Spain.

The original buildings were constructed in 200 B.C., approximately 15 kilometers south of Aswan in southern Egypt, close to the 1st cataract of the Nile, also known as a shallow length or white water rapids as well as the grand religious center dedicated to the goddess Isis, in Philae. Adikhalamani, the Kushite king of Meroë, built the original structure of the monument, a single chapel room dedicated to the god Amun. During various other reigns, it was further expanded to form a small temple and decorated to completion by the Roman emperors Agustus and Tiberius.

Temple of Debod before it was moved from Egypt, ca. 1862. Public domain.
Temple of Debod before it was moved from Egypt, ca. 1862. Public domain.

In 1960, the construction of the Aswan High Dam posed a threat to numerous monuments and archeological sites in the area, included the Templo de Debod, and UNESCO initiated an international call to preserve these historically rich structures.

During this time, Spain assisted Egypt in saving the temples of Abu Simbel and as a sign of gratitude the Egyptian state donated the Templo de Debod to Spain in 1968.

It was then disassembled and rebuilt in the center of Madrid, opened to the public in 1972. The gateways were also assembled in a different order than the original layout from Egypt.

Today, the Temple is the perfect place to watch the sunset, hang with friends and simply find some calmness and solace within the busy city. You can have a spectacular view of the city below and the peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama. I used to love going there with a few friends, a big blanket and a picnic basket!

Temple of Debod during the daytime.
Temple of Debod during the daytime.
Temple of Debod at sunset.

Because the park and temple is located so centrally, it is very easy to find, especially from the usual tourist sites. The “hop-on-hop-off” bus also stops there, as well. You can easily walk to the temple from the main palace (which also has some really beautiful gardens), from Plaza de España and Gran Vía.

Though visiting the park and the temple grounds could be the perfect afternoon, you also have a chance to go inside the chambers. Entrance is free, but the schedule and opening hours are subject to change so it’s a good idea to confirm the opening times before visiting, if possible. The scheduled hours can be found via their website (only available in Spanish).

Artifact inside the chamber at Temple of Debod. Taken by Morgan Davis via Flickr.
Artifact inside the chamber at Temple of Debod. Taken by Morgan Davis via Flickr.
Wall carvings inside the Temple of Debod. Taken by Morgan Davis via Flickr.
Wall carvings inside the Temple of Debod. Taken by Morgan Davis via Flickr.

I definitely recommend trying to get inside the temple, which as ancient drawings as well as a museum dedicated to the history of the monument. There are also guided tours available upon request.

[Wikipedia], [Madrid.es]

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