Although Madrid is a great city full of tall buildings and long avenues that does not mean that it does not conserve charming places where you can enjoy a quiet time surrounded by nature or contemplate from a perfect vantage point, a wonderful sunset. The Debod Temple is one of those places where you can disconnect completely from the city’s pace in an environment that will make you think you are kilometres from the great metropolis.
The Debod Temple is a group of buildings from ancient Egypt that are situated between West Park and Spanish Square, very near to the Royal Palace of Madrid. It seems impossible to believe that right in the middle of the city there is a place like this where sunsets have a special meaning thanks to the open spaces and the landscape visible from there that sets the stage for one of the best sunsets in Madrid.
This architectural ensemble was a gift to Spain from Egypt in the year 1968 to thank them for the help that the country gave to them to save the Nubia Temples, which were in danger of disappearing due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.
Unesco raised a petition to ask for international help to try and save by any means the remains of this Egyptian architectural heritage and Spain was one of the countries that responded. To show their gratitude the Egyptian government donated four of the temples that were saved to the countries that helped the most. For this reason the Densur Temple went to the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, the Ellesiya Temple went to the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, the Taffa Temple, went to the Leiden National Antique in Holland and the Debod Temple to Spain.
At this time the Debod Temple is now a part of Madrid, set in a beautiful place surrounded by gardens. However, it was a very difficult task to bring the temple to Madrid and took a number of years before it was erected in its final resting place. The temple was carefully dismantled in 1961 from the original site in the small location of Debod, on the banks of the Nile. The stone blocks were taken to the nearby Egyptian island called Elefantina where they remained for about a decade. It was not until 1970 that they continued their journey, firstly to Alexandria and then by boat to the port of Valencia. After they were transferred from there to Madrid by lorries for the last stage of their long journey.
Once they arrived in the Spanish capital the most difficult part began, reconstruction. This task took almost two years due to the lack of information and documentation available to the archaeologists, which amounted to a few photographs and some plans. Although they had very few references to help them, the archaeologists did an excellent job and enabled us to enjoy this wonderful monument in the centre of Madrid. A walk round this temple is like being transported back to ancient Egypt, next to the Nile without the need to leave the city. Also next to the temple a pond was built to evoke the waters of the river from its place of origin.
If you are visiting the Spanish capital don’t miss the opportunity to see the sunset from the Denod Temple. If you need accommodation we recommend that you choose one of the Petit Palace Hotel in Madrid from where you can easily visit some of the marvels of the city such as the famous Almudena Cathedral.