I usually have so much fun while traveling that I forget to become homesick, which is nice because I have little patience for people who complain about wanting to go home when they are on the road. In the off chance that I do feel pangs of rootlessness, however, I like to find some aspect of wherever I am that makes me recall a memory from home. Experiencing a small moment of connection with my origin reminds me that it is waiting for me when I return, and I am reinvigorated to keep exploring my new location.
While doing some research for my two-week trip to Madrid in August I preemptively found one of these memory-inducing landmarks when I by chance saw a picture of the Temple of Debod in Madrid’s centrally located Parque de la Montaña. It might seem strange that I would use an Ancient Egyptian temple to mentally transport me back to the States, but it just so happens that a very similar structure — the Temple of Dendur — stands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the island I call home.
Though they are not necessarily a pair like the Egyptian obelisks in New York and London, the two temples share a common history explaining how they ended up where they are today — and, to those of us who haven’t studied Egyptology, look basically identical. When the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1960 threatened to flood a large area of historically rich land, UNESCO stepped in to relocate the many ancient artifacts that would otherwise be destroyed and lost forever. As a thank you for their assistance in the moving process, Egypt gifted these two temples to the United States and Spain along with several other tokens of gratitude to other nations.
Whereas the Temple of Dendur came to rest in its own wing at the Met in 1978, the Temple of Debod was placed in an open air environment and opened to the Spanish public in 1972. Ever since, people in both countries have enjoyed the grandiose reminders of the Ancient Egyptians and their contribution to the world of art.
Having seen the Temple of Dendur several times, I’m excited to lay eyes on her pretty Spanish cousin. Who knows — maybe there is some sort of magic that connects the two just in case I get my first big bout of homesickness and need to be transported back to Manhattan. But again, I’m no Egyptologist and therefore don’t even know if the Ancient Egyptians believed in teleportation.
But it would explain how they moved all those heavy stones to build the pyramids…