AT dawn on December 21st, during the December Solstice, crowds of tourists witness the magnificent phenomenon of the sun aligning on the inner sanctum of a crocodile god temple at Qasr Qarun in Egypt.
Close to edge of Lake Qarun in Fayoum, Qasr Qarun marks the original location of the ancient town of Dionysias.
Antinous and Hadrian are not known to have visited this city, although they went on a lion-hunting expedition to the Western Desert, where Qasr Qarun is located, on the edge of Lake Qarun.
A crocodile has been found buried under a temple to Antinous in the city of Antinoopolis not far south of Qasr Qarun. Crocodiles were both feared and respected by the Egyptians and Sobek was regarded as a powerful protective deity.
The town is spread out and is now mostly in ruins apart from a few structures. A few houses are still standing, at least partially. Some even have decorations remaining on the interior walls.
The most interesting structure still remaining is the temple dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek Ra.
This is sometimes referred to as the "Temple of Stone" and is located in the middle of the ancient town. It dates to between 323 and 330 BC.
The temple is made of blocks of yellow limestone and the exterior of the temple has been partially restored by the Egyptian Antiquities Service.
One of the most interesting aspects of the temple is that its roof is still place, offering us a sense of the atmosphere that once prevailed.
The interior of the temple is a labyrinth of rooms, stairways, corridors, cellars, tunnels and upper rooms of all sizes and at different levels.
Specifically, there are fourteen rooms on either side of central corridor that lead to three chapels. There is a stairway that leads you to the roof and the amazing views.