The Ramesseum is the memorial temple (or mortuary temple) of Pharaoh Ramesses II ("Ramesses the Great", also spelled "Ramses" and "Rameses"). It is located in the Theban necropolis in Upper Egypt, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. The name – or at least its French form, Rhamesséion – was coined by Jean-François Champollion, who visited the ruins of the site in 1829 and first identified the hieroglyphs making up Ramesses's names and titles on the walls. It was originally called the House of millions of years of Usermaatra-setepenra that unites with Thebes-the-city in the domain of Amon.
Ramesses II modified, usurped, or constructed many buildings from the ground up, and the most splendid of these, in accordance with New Kingdom Royal burial practices, would have been his memorial temple: a place of worship dedicated to pharaoh, god on earth, where his memory would have been kept alive after his passing from this world. Surviving records indicate that work on the project began shortly after the start of his reign and continued for 20 years.
The design of Ramesses's mortuary temple adheres to the standard canons of New Kingdom temple architecture. Oriented northwest and southeast, the temple itself comprised two stone pylons (gateways, some 60 m wide), one after the other, each leading into a courtyard. Beyond the second courtyard, at the centre of the complex, was a covered 48-column hypostyle hall, surrounding the inner sanctuary.
An enormous pylon (gateways, some 60 m wide) stood before the first court, with the royal palace at the left and the gigantic statue of the king looming up at the back.
The Greeks identified this as the Temple of Memnonium (they associated the colossal statue in front of the Temple with their legendry hero, Memnon, the son of Aurora who's mother, Eos, was the Goddess of dawn. Also they sometimes called it “the tomb of Ozymandias”, a name that might have be derived from the ancient Egypt word “User-Maat-Ra”.
The Roman historian, Diodorus, was under the impression that the Temple was the work of the legendry King called Ozymandias, and his tomb was located in there. He even give a description of the 'Tomb of Ozymandias' of the tomb of Ozymandias and described the inscription that was on its entrance, which says: - " I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass any of my works."
Ozymandias may be explained as a corrupt form of User-ma-re, one of the names of Ramesses II. The two colossal monoliths of the king, which must once have towered over the pylons of the Ramesseum, inspired Shelley to write his famous poem Ozymandias. Ozymandias represents a transliteration into Greek of a part of Ramesses' throne name, User-maat-re Setep-en-re.
Shelley's poem is often said to have been inspired by the 1821 arrival in London of a colossal statue of Ramesses II, acquired for the British Museum by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Belzoni in 1816.