During our visit to Parque del Oeste in Madrid, we were taken aback by an unexpected sight that seemed to transport us to ancient Egypt. Nestled within the park’s surroundings, we marveled at a remarkable structure reminiscent of ancient Egyptian ruins. Indeed, it turned out that these were authentic ruins of an Egyptian temple gifted by the Egyptian government to Spain.
The Temple of Debod – an ancient Egyptian temple located in Madrid
The Temple of Debod dates back to the 2nd century BC and was originally built in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ptolemy IV. It was dedicated to the goddess Isis and the gods Amun and Horus. In the 20th century, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, several ancient Egyptian temples were at risk of being submerged.
The construction of dams along the Nile River carried out by the Egyptian goverment to improve water management in Egypt posed a significant threat to the ancient archaeological sites located in the region. Spanish archaeologists collaborated with local and international teams to conduct extensive research, documentation, and excavation efforts prior to the dam projects. Their expertise helped to identify, record, and relocate numerous Egyptian and Nubian monuments, including temples, tombs, and artifacts, that would have otherwise been submerged by the rising waters.
As a gesture of gratitude for Spain’s help in saving Nubian monuments, Egypt gifted the Temple of Debod to the Spanish government in 1968. The temple was dismantled, transported to Madrid, and carefully reconstructed in the Parque del Oeste, a park near the Royal Palace. The reconstruction took several years, and the temple was finally opened to the public in 1972.