Exploring the Egyptian Templo de Debod in Madrid, Spain

Last Updated on September 15, 2023

Much like the random Sphinx I once visited in Croatia, few people would assume you can find a 2200-year-old Egyptian temple in the center of Madrid.

Standing at Templo de Debod
Touring Debod with Jorge & Heather

I recently wrote about Madrid’s Parque Europa where you can find replicas of famous monuments from around the world. In this instance, Madrid’s Temple of Debod (Spanish: Templo de Debod) is in no way a replica- its origins trace back as far as the 2nd century BC to the ancient city of Meroë on the east bank of the Nile.

Transported to Madrid’s Cartel de la Montaña Park, the temple was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods following the construction of the great Aswan Dam.

Model of Templo de Debod
Model shows the layout of the Temple of Debod

The Temple today sits to the west of the newly redesigned Plaza de España in the Parque del Oeste. The Temple stands in close proximity to and positioned just beyond the Royal Palace of Madrid.

The Royal Palace – January 2017

Here’s how the story of the temple goes…

The Templo de Debod was built several miles south of Aswan in Egypt to worship the Egyptian god Amun. Various pharaohs and kings later expanded the temple. It was eventually completed by the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius.

In the 1960s, UNESCO intervened financially and scientifically to help rescue the ancient temples and ruins in Abu Simbel which were in danger due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.

To express their appreciation, Egypt donated this temple to Spain in 1968!

Full of gratitude, the also donated a temple to the United States which sits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art- which I’ve seen in person as well!

The M.E.T. is home to the Temple of Dendur.

Image Source: The MET

There are also donated temples located in Turin, Italy and Leiden, Netherlands.

As you can imagine, transporting a major temple involves some serious planning. Debod was deconstructed in Egypt and shipped to Spain in pieces where it was later rebuilt stone by stone.

This process needed to be done very carefully. The Temple was opened to the public in 1972.

Visiting the Templo de Debod takes about an hour. Depending on the day and time, you may need to wait in a long queue before you can enter. We tried to avoid it and we still ended up waiting about 45 minutes. (Under the hot sun with little coverage from trees- pack water!)

There is no entrance fee to enter, but you will probably end up waiting because no more than 15 people can be inside it at once.

You can organize guided tours in advance, but self-exploring it is just as pleasant. That’s what we did.

Visiting hours vary depending on the day and season, but do note that the temple is almost always closed on a Monday. If you hope to go inside when you visit, aim to arrive there early!


  1. I passed by the Templo de Debod on my last trip to Madrid, but I was put off by the long line and ended up not visiting. I’d also figured the site didn’t look too impressive, but from your visit, the hieroglyphics were a surprising, but lovely touch! I’ll have to return to give the Templo de Debod a chance. 😊

    1. I totally can see how that could happen. It’s one of those attractions that’s hard to judge at a glance if you’re not familiar with what it actually is. (Meaning most people probably wouldn’t assume it’s an actual temple brought in from Egypt and probably might just think it was some sort of art installation instead) but once you realize its significance, it’s a lot more interesting (especially inside of it) and easy to understand why the line to enter is always so long!

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