Like many others, Abu Simbel in Egypt was on our bucket lists. I am sure those who have come before me would agree that it is one thing to see these Egyptian temples in photos or videos, but nothing beats witnessing them first hand. When our private guide walked my friends and I towards the temple, I was in complete awe when I turned the corner and approached the massive sculptures carved into the rockface.
I was in awe not only for the architectural wonder of these temples built for their Egyptian Gods, but for the shear fact that these temples were dismantled and reconstructed to save them. Last century these ancient Egyptian temples along the Nile River, were in danger of flooding by the rising waters of the Aswan High Damn. In 1960, UNESCO launched a campaign that lasted two decades, which moved both Philae and Abu Simbel to higher ground. These magnificent temples that were built by King Ramses II are now part of the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae- UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This outstanding archaeological area contains such magnificent monuments as the Temples of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and the Sanctuary of Isis at Philae, which were saved from the rising waters of the Nile thanks to the International Campaign launched by UNESCO, in 1960 to 1980.– UNESCO World Heritage Site Webtsite
The enterance of the temple to the left side is flanked by four enormous (66 ft) statues, all representing Ramesses II wearing a double crown for both Upper and Lower Egypt. The statue to the direct left of the enterance was damaged in an earthquake and was never restored, although the head and torso were placed at the statue’s feet as they were originally found.
Inside Abu Simbel
The Temple at Abu Simbel, is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Egypt and the grandest of those commissioned during Ramesses II reign. It was completed in approximately 1265 BC, and was dedicated to the the Gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, Amun and the deified Ramesses.
The ancient Egyptian builders of Abu Simbel had designed and aligned it so that on October 21 and February 21 (61 days prior and after the winter solstice), the sun’s rays entered the sanctuary. It would illuminate the four sculptures on the wall, all with the exception of God Ptah, who was associated with the underworld.
The closest city to Abu Simbel is Aswan, which is 600 miles south of Cairo. The quickest and most convenient mode of transportation is to take an hour flight from the capital to Aswan. From there, Abu Simbel is another 175 miles south of Aswan, which is roughly 3.5 hours. We had left Aswan very early in the morning to get there, it was still dark when we boarded the shuttle bus at 5:00 AM. The early morning rise was worth it though, just to get to Abu Simbel before it became too hot in the day.
More than likely if you are visiting Aswan or Luxor for the temples, you will be hiring a private guide to take you there. It is very important that you hire an official guide in Egypt to take you to the sites, and just not someone on the sidewalk asking you if you want to take a city tour. On our trip to Aswan and Luxor, plus our cruise along the Nile River, we chose Egypt Gift Tours who I highly recommend. They had professionally coordinated us on private tours for all of our trips from Aswan to Luxor.
For tour and Nile cruise information, please visit – Egypt Gift Tours
Adventure is worthwhile in itself…– Amelia Earhart
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