Posted by: travelrat | July 23, 2007

The Debod Temple

Debod TempleMadrid: 14th April 2007 (continued)

I got off the Open Top Bus to investigate an ‘Egyptian-looking building’ on top of a hill, and found that it is, in fact Egyptian. I’ve visited Egypt several times, but, even if you aren’t into ‘things Egyptian’, you can’t help but wonder how an Egyptian temple came to be situated almost in the centre of Spain.

Surrounding the Debod Temple is a clear, moat-like lake and the whole thing stands inside a considerable garden, with palm trees making the temple seem at home, even against the backdrop of Madrid’s skyscrapers.

To the west, the hilltop site gives a view of the vast Casa de Campo recreational area on the other side of the Manzanares River.

Entry to the inside is free. At first, I thought I was going to be disappointed. There was a video, projected on to one of the ancient walls, but the commentary was in Spanish only, of which my command doesn’t extend to Egyptological matters. And, there were wall carvings. These, also, I was disappointed in, but then, I’ve been to Egypt, where there’s much better to be seen. And, as I found out later, for 60 years, the temple was under water for three-quarters of the year.

Upstairs is the good stuff. Models show how the temple probably looked in its heyday, and how that stretch of the Nile looked before the coming of the Aswan dams. Better still, a series of computers gave a commentary … in English, if desired … describing the history of the temple, how the temples were rescued from the rising waters and, most importantly, how the Temple of Debod came to be in Spain.

Many Egyptian artefacts came to Europe in the 19th and early 20th Centuries … often, without the courtesy of asking the Egyptians. But, this wasn’t the case with the Temple of Debod. As late as 1960, it stood on its original site, and was freely given to Spain by the Egyptian authorities.

Ten temples upstream of the dams were rescued and relocated, A further ten were dismantled, and the blocks taken to Elephantine Island, below the dams, to await disposal.

The visit filled a gap for me. When I visited Egypt, all the guide-book would say was ‘Several other temples were rescued, and given, as a token of appreciation, to the countries which had helped with the project’

The commentary in the temple filled some of the missing spaces. It told about temples being re-assembled in the USA, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. But, of course, the one we are interested in went to Spain.

The Temple of Debod has since become an icon of Madrid, rather than Egypt. Indeed, when I was doing a ‘Google’ search for a little bit of information on its original location and movement, I could find nothing … apart from countless statements that, if I was ever in Madrid, I shouldn’t miss it. So, it would seem that the if you need information on Temple of Debod before 1972, the only thing you can do is visit it!

To read more about the rescue of the Lake Nasser monuments, please see my article at

28 Aug 2008: My article about the Débod Temple can be seen at


  1. […] visits The Debod Temple in Madrid posted at Travelrat’s […]

  2. Looks like a very good exhibition and nicely reconstructed. Must try to visit it one day. God photograph too!


  3. […] stats, I was surprised to find that the Débod Temple, in Madrid, about which I posted last year at was the third most popular post overall. Which is remarkable, because I’ve been pitching the idea […]

  4. […] stop was the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple given to Spain in 1968. The Temple once stood in the Valley of the Nile […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: