The town of Esna is on the west bank of the Nile 55km south of Luxor. Cruise boats often make this town their first port of call after leaving Luxor to visit the remains of a Ptolemaic temple in the centre of the town.
The ancient name for Esna was Iunyn or Ta-Senet, classical Latopolis. The temple, dating to the Ptolemaic and Roman Period and one of the last temples built in Egypt, stands today in its excavation pit, 9m below the modern ground level. It was dedicated to the god Khnum and several other deities, including Neith, Heka, Satet and Menheyet.
Esna Temple would once have been built to a plan similar to the temples at Edfu and Dendera but all that now remains is the hypostyle hall which was built by the Roman Emperor Claudius who extended earlier buildings. The oldest part of the structure seen today is the west (back) wall which would have been the façade of the original temple, depicting reliefs of Ptolemy VI Philometer and Ptolemy VIII Neos Philopator. The earliest king mentioned here is Ptolemy V, who is being offered a libation by his son Ptolemy VII. The part of the temple we see today is around a quarter of the size of the original building.