Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Walk to a Temple

Back in the 1960s, when the Aswan dam was being planned and built in Upper Egypt, the ensuing reservoir, Lake Nasser, was going to cover a number of very important archeological sites. In return for their aid in saving the Abu Simbel temples, seen in the photo below, the government of Egypt gave some smaller temples to the four nations who helped out: Italy, the Netherlands, the US and Spain. Here is a photo of the two Abu Simbel temples, which were entirely relocated to an artificial hill away from the dam:

Click to enlarge
The temple given to Spain, the Temple of Debod, has been rebuilt on a mesa overlooking the Manzanares River in the Parque del Oeste near the Royal Palace. Here is what it looked like before relocation:

It is not far from where I am staying, so yesterday I walked over to have a look. After all, it's not every day you can visit an Egyptian temple over two thousand years old.

My route took me through the Plaza de España which has a large monument to Cervantes begun in the 1920s and finished in the 1950s. I approached it from the back where there is a large fountain:

As always, click to enlarge
The back of the monument itself is another fountain:

And then, around to the front. Cervantes himself is sculpted in stone in front of the pillar. In front of and below him are bronze statues of his characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. On separate pillars on either side are Don Quixote's two loves: Aldonza Lorenzo and Dulcinea. In the background are two of Madrid's most famous skyscrapers.

Continuing on, I passed this lovely and unusual church:

And in a little park nearby, was surprised to see this statue of the famous 17th century Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a gift from the people of Mexico to the people of Madrid:

And finally, to the Temple of Debod:

You really have to click on this one!
Here is another shot:

The temple is surrounded by acres of lovely gardens:

Here is a closer look at the temple itself:

A couple of things: this temple was built during the reign of the Ptolomaic dynasty, who were actually Macedonian Greeks. This period, following the death of Alexander the Great, is called the Hellenistic period when Greek culture influenced much of the known world. Cleopatra, incidentally, was the last of the Ptolomies to rule Egypt and unlike her predecessors, who spoke only Greek, she also spoke Egyptian. Though I only know a very little about the history of architecture, I believe I recall that the Greek pillar was an idea borrowed from the Egyptians. The decorative capital derives from the foliage at the top of a palm tree, the original inspiration for the pillar. These capitals look very different from Classical Greek ones: very massive:

Inside are some carved bas reliefs:

And here is the view as you look out from the porch of the temple:

There is also a very modern temple in Madrid. Located on one side of the Puerta del Sol is the temple of Apple:


Marc Puckett said...

Is that a cannon escaped from the Museo Naval in the pool surrounding the Temple (the 'really have to click' photograph)? It looks rather like a fallen signpost but one never knows....

Bryan Townsend said...

Oh, right, on the left hand side. No, I think that is a fallen signpost. The pool had been drained of water for cleaning. In fact, on the far right you can see three guys in green jackets blasting away with pressure hoses.