The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its many secrets, houses a wonderful collection of works that date back to ancient times and through to the Renaissance. Most notable of the ancient artifacts is an entire, bona fide, Egyptian temple! The Temple of Dendur, as it’s called, is completely open to the public, which means visitors can walk through its doors and hallways, experiencing the temple as it was originally used thousands of years ago. Read on for 10 of our favorite fun facts about the Temple of Dendur:

Main entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Secrets of the Met Museum Tour

1. It Took 10 Years to Move the Temple of Dendur to New York City

Blocks laid out in preparation for reconstruction of the temple, 1974.
Temple blocks in storage in the Museum’s North Parking Garage prior to conservation treatment, early 1970s. Courtesy of the Met Museum Open Access

Instead of standing in the Met Museum, the Temple of Dendur could have been submerged in Lake Nasser. In order to control flooding from the Nile River, the Aswan High Dam was built in 1960, leading to the creation of Lake Nasser in 1970. If not for the efforts of UNESCO’s International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia, the Temple of Dendur could have been swallowed up by the lake along with the 2,000 square miles of land it covers. The Campaign worked with experts from around the world to relocate twenty-two temples in the region.

In 1965, the Egyptian government gifted the Temple of Dendur to the United States government. Instead of simply being moved to higher ground, the temple was disassembled and shipped across the ocean in 661 crates aboard the S.S. Concordia Star. It took nearly ten years for the temple to be dismantled, packed up, shipped across the Atlantic, transferred to the Met, rebuilt inside the formerly named Sackler Wing of the Museum, and finally opened to the public. The pieces arrived on Fifth Avenue in August 1968 and the exhibit opened in September 1978.