Templo de Debod, Madrid

by Gray Cargill on September 23, 2011

Templo de Debod

Templo de Debod

Here’s a sight I never thought I’d see: An Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid, Spain. Not in a museum, just sitting on a hilltop in Parque del Oeste. How did an Egyptian temple come to be here? As is often the case in these situations, it was a gift from Egypt to Spain. Spain apparently helped Egypt in saving the temples of Abu Simbel in the 1960s, and in gratitude, Egypt gifted Spain with Templo de Debod, which had been a temple to the goddess Isis in Aswan, Egypt. The temple had to be carefully deconstructed in Egypt and reconstructed in Spain. It was open to the public in Spain in the early 1970s.

Stairs leading to temple

Stairs leading to temple

As a huge fan of pretty much everything Egyptian, naturally, I had to see it. It’s within walking distance of the Palacio Real, so I was able to see it on the same day as the Royal Palace. I didn’t strictly know where I was going (what else is new?), beyond knowing I had to walk past Plaza de Espana and veer left. But it became apparent I was on the right track when I saw a line of tour buses along a road in a park-like area. I followed that road myself on foot–happily, as it was shady and cool on a very warm, sunny day–and eventually found the stairs leading up to the hilltop and the temple.

Templo de Debod

Gateways to the Templo de Debod

The idea of exploring an Egyptian temple is a bit different from actually doing so. I didn’t realize just how small this structure would be, or how narrow the passageways. I’m nightblind, and the chambers were very dark. And of course, it was crowded with other tourists, making the small chambers and passageways more than a little claustrophobic for me. I stayed as long as I could stand it, but eventually, I just had to get out of there.

As I mentioned above, the Temple is located in a city park–yet another of Madrid’s fine public green spaces (see Retiro Park)–with a fantastic view of Madrid. Aside from the tourists, who were mainly interested in the temple and the view, I saw quite a few people just sunbathing on the hilltop and enjoying the beautiful day. And why not?


Parque del Oeste has great views of Madrid

This is a very worthwhile excursion for your time in Madrid, even if you have no interest in Egypt, archaeology, or old structures. If for no other reason, go for the views of Madrid.


Gray October 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Yes, exactly–it’s interesting how countries say thank you with monuments. 🙂
Sorry about the allergies; that can put a damper on a trip.

GRRRL TRAVELER October 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Mystery decoded. It was my first day in Madrid & I was there but too lazy to read signs or take out my guidebook; my friend and I were plowing through the itinerary. Oddly, I remember this area very distinctly… the park is where I discovered I had spring allergies and that cold lasted me through all of Madrid. Glad I’m learning about the actual history now.. Better late than never!

BTW– France & Egypt seem to be big donors of monuments, eh? I’m just thinking of NYC’s Ms Liberty & the obelisk? monument in Central Park. hmmm…

Gray Cargill October 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

I know, Sabina. Maybe next year’s the year.

Sabina September 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

A temple is some incredible gift! It’s great you got to see something 100% Egyptian while in Spain. You should really plan a trip to Egypt. I know it’s a dream of yours and I don’t think you would ever regret it.

Gray September 26, 2011 at 5:18 am

LOL, Will.

Will - Gap Daemon September 25, 2011 at 11:24 am

Can’t wait to head to Madrid and check this out for myself! Great shots!

Saving Egyptians during The Summer of Love has never proved so fruitful. Why couldn’t London have stuck their hand out? We could do with a temple fit for pharaohs out in the East End. Instead all we got is a big shopping mall in the Olympic Village. Homage to the gods? Homage to Topshop more like!

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