Palaces were the residences of the pharaohs and their entourage. They consisted of a complex of buildings designed to house the headquarters of power and the temples for worshipping the gods. There were two main sections, one to accommodate the needs of the pharaoh and the other to meet the requirements of administration.
Palaces took on a distinctive architectural form around the end of the fourth millennium B.C., a form that was repeated for most of the third millennium. They were essentially rectangular structures consisting of high walls topped with towers. The tops of the towers were often decorated with a rich cornice or panels.
By the end of the third millennium B.C., the palace had evolved into a palace-temple complex. And by the second millennium, it became even more elaborate, with the addition of a hypostyle hall with gigantic columns that led to the throne room. Rooms to accommodate the needs of the court were located to one side of the hall. Government buildings, lakes and gardens were also added to these complexes, creating magnificent residences for the kings of Egypt.
One such palace-temple is found at Medinet Habu, across from the former site of Thebes, on the other side of the Nile. It was built by Rameses III during the twentieth dynasty, around 1150 B.C. When he came to visit from his main residence in the delta region, he stayed in the royal palace located next to the temples. The complex consists of a palace, a temple for the worship of Rameses III and one dedicated to Amun, storehouses, and lodging for the priests. There are two pylons, one depicting scenes of Rameses III's victory over the Libyans and the other his celebrated victory over the Sea Peoples. This is the best-preserved Theban temple.