In 1798, Napoleon paid Egypt a visit, hoping to add it to France’s empire. Troops were dispatched to secure upper Egypt and in 1799 during the long march south along the Nile, the soldiers caught sight of Karnak rising defiantly from the sands.
Located to the north of the city center, Karnak is probably the largest religious complex ever built. Its original name was Ipet Isut which means “the most select of places”. Over the course of two millennia it was enlarged by consecutive Pharaohs until it comprised an area of 247 acres. Centred on the Temple of Amun it served as a spiritual center but also as an economic hub containing administrative offices, treasuries, palaces, bakeries, breweries, granaries and schools.