Madrid is one of the last places you’d expect to find an ancient Egyptian temple. But there it stands – the Templo de Debod – on the outskirts of the Parque del Oeste, overlooking Madrid’s Casa de Campo recreational area.
So you’ve got to wonder, how in the world did an authentic Egyptian temple, dated back to the 2nd century, end up in Madrid?
Stone by stone it turns out.
The temple, which was originally built in the Nile Valley just south of Aswan, was in eminent danger, thanks to the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1960, of ending up in a watery grave.
To stop this from happening the Egyptian government donated the temple to the Spanish people as a thank you for the Spanish government helping save Abu Simbel, yet another ancient site that was being threatened by flooding.
In 1969, the temple was dismantled, shipped to the Spanish port of Valencia, and then traveled by train to Madrid. A few years later, having been carefully reconstructed, the Templo de Debod, it opened to the public.
There’s a small museum inside the temple featuring maps, artifacts, photographs and a fairly unsophisticated laser show.
Most locals, however, will tell you not to spend too much time inside the temple but it wander around or simply sit and experience the temple’s changing colors as the sun moved through the sky.
It’s also one of the best places in Madrid to watch the sunset.
Sadly, my timing was off and I wasn’t there to see it.
(photos @Liz Lewis)