Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt was designed to align with the sunrise on the solstice, focusing light on a shrine to the sun god. Ancient Egypt's sprawling temple of Karnak was constructed in alignment with the winter solstice at Luxor more than 4,000 years ago.
An HDR photo of the Karnak Temple during the winter solstice on December 17, 2015 in Luxor, Egypt.

Solstice Sunrise at Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple in Egypt was built over 4,000 years ago and was aligned with the winter solstice. This alignment allowed light to focus on a shrine dedicated to the sun god. The temple is one of many ancient structures around the world that were constructed with similar astronomical alignments, such as Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu. During the winter solstice, tourists flock to Karnak Temple to witness the sun’s alignment with the temple corridor. While the photos of the event may not be photojournalistic, they accurately capture the appearance of the sunrise in Luxor.

These photos were taken during one of Egypt’s tourism dips so there weren’t any other tourists to see the annual event. But often you will find swarms of tourists arriving just before sunrise in the weeks around the solar event to watch the alignment of the sun with the temple corridor.

As you can see in the photos the sun appears to rest on the door/pedestal at the end of the long corridor looking through Hypostyle Hall.

N.B. These solstice photos were created by sandwiching multiple exposures together into HDR photos so they aren’t photojournalistic though they pretty accurate to the appearance of the sunrise in Luxor.