THESE magnificent ruins are situated on the western plain of the valley of the Nile, and about two miles from the river; they lie not far from the base of the Libyan chain of mountains, which here assume forms of a highly picturesque character.

    The portico of the Temple is lofty enough to be seen from the river. The state of its preservation is remarkable, for the parts uninjured by violence are as sharp in the sculpture and as vivid in the paintings as if they were recently executed; but force has been used to obliterate the features of the goddess, to whose worship the Temple was dedicated. As it was erected long after the destructive invasion of Cambyses, or the civil wars of the Egyptians themselves, these injuries were done, most probably, by the Iconoclasts upon the introduction of Christianity into the valley of the Nile, for the features of Hat Hor, Athor, or Isis, to whom it is dedicated, which form the capitals of the columns in the façade, have been destroyed, though within the portico they have been less injured. The exuberance of hieroglyphic decoration has given a character of exceeding richness  to the whole Temple: every part of the entablature, and every column and its abacus, are covered; but, in execution, the sculpture and carving are far inferior to the earlier works of the same class in Egypt; though the architecture itself is still grand and imposing, the parts thereof are heavy and almost grotesque, still there is a grandeur in its vastness and a beauty in its characteristic symmetry. The entablature is enriched with representations of processions and sacrifices, in honour of Athor; and, overspreading the entrance in the cove of the cornice, the winged globe is extended above the head of the goddess, of whom it is also the emblem; whilst, on either side, the wings of similar emblems droop protectingly over other heads of Athor, which are supported by emblems of truth. The winged globe is carved and painted in the soffit of the entrance and on the ceiling of the portico.

    Dendera is the Tentyra of the Romans, the Tentathor, or abode of Athor, of the Egyptians, the Isis of the Greeks. The gigantic capitals of the columns are quadrifrontal representations of the head of Athor, the Egyptian Aphrodite, or Venus. The Temple was commenced by the celebrated Cleopatra and Cæsarion, her son by Julius Cæsar, and appropriately dedicated by her to Athor. The building was continued by Augustus; and the Emperors, who succeeded him till the time of the Antonines, added to, repaired, or adorned, this Temple. The portico was the work of Tiberius, as a Greek inscription records on the projecting summit of the cornice, which also mentions that Aulus Avillus Flaccus was military governor, or prefect, and Aulus Fulminus Crispus was commander of the forces.

    Though it is the most recent of the Egyptian temples, for it was begun at the commencement of the Christian era, still, from its magnitude and beauty, it is scarcely less imposing, and not less beautiful, than other celebrated remains of an earlier and more glorious period of Egyptian history.

    The portico is supported by twenty-four columns, and is open at the front above the screens or walls of intercolumniation. Much of it is still buried, perhaps not more than half the height of the columns is seen. The soil has not been cleared to half the depth of the lintels between the central columns, and the accumulations of sand on either side shew what has been done by the French to display this, one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt.