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Luxor, Egypt

Malkata Palace

The city-sized home palace of one of ancient Egypt's most powerful rulers gives us a rare look into the lives of the epoch's rulers. 

Amenhotep III, Amenhotep the Magnificent, ruled over Egypt for almost 40 years, from 1386 BCE to 1349 BCE, and never before had Egypt seen such wealth, such power, or such ostentation. He ruled as pharaoh and as a god-king from his sprawling palace of Malkata.

In all that remains to us of ancient Egypt, the homes of the dead and the homes of the gods have fared far better than the homes of the living. However the huge site of the palace of Malkata, which now lies in ruins, is one of the few places capable of hinting at the splendor of the pharaohs’ lives.

Courtyards, audience-chambers, harems, and a gigantic ceremonial lake have been discovered at the Malkata site. Researchers have found that the walls were covered with bright, delicate paintings, some of which are still faintly visible. Animals, flowers, and the reed-beds along the Nile were all depicted on the walls of the pharaoh’s grand estate. Malkata was a home on the scale of a city, except built for a single ruler. Amenhotep’s wife had her own wing of the huge estate and the artificial lake was built strictly so that the ruler and family could sail on it. The site was so large that there is even a set of apartments known as the “West Villas” that would have housed the various workers and staff on site. 

Today, the ruins of Malkata stretch across the desert close to Thebes, still marking the pinnacle of Amenhotep’s 3,000 year old empire.