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Abu Simble Temples

This site, Abu Simbel Temples, south of Aswan along Lake Nasser’s shore is the most famous in all of Egypt. Built by the greatest of the pharaohs, Ramesses II, which made it also known as the Temple of Ramses II, these huge rock-cut temples marked the southern boundary of the Egyptian Empire with Nubia at the peak of its power during the New Kingdom.

They were created with the intention of making anyone who saw them feel the power of Egypt’s rulers. The largest sculptures from the prehistoric Pharaonic era still exist, and they are the four statues that guard the entrance to the larger of these temples.

The Rediscovery of the Temples at Abu Simbel

The Abu Simbel Temples were rediscovered in 1813 by Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckhardt after being cut off from civilization for a while. The massive statues in front of the temple entrances had all but been covered by the desert sands and were long since forgotten.
These twin temples have grown in fame since the sand was finally removed in 1909, making them the most well-known location in southern Egypt.

The Rediscovery of the Temples at Abu Simbel

The twin temples of Abu Simbel were in danger due to the rising Nile River waters that would be brought on by the construction of the Aswan High Dam. In order to save the historic temples from the Nile’s waters, the Temples of Abu Simbel were relocated.
In 1968, the Abu Simbel Temples were disassembled and moved to a desert plateau 64 meters above and 180 meters to the west of where they had originally been constructed. It took a lot of work to move the temples; it was not a job. It involved dismantling the temples into pieces weighing between 3 and 20 tones and putting them back together at the new location exactly as they were. It took nearly Five years to finish.

How do the Abu Simbel Temples appear?

Two temples can be found. Ramesses II’s personal temple, the Great Temple, is the first; his wife, Queen Nefertari, is the subject of the second temple, the Small Temple.

The Large Temple

The construction of Abu Simbel’s Great Temple took about twenty years. It was devoted to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah as well as to the Great King Ramesses himself, and is also referred to as the Temple of Ramses II. One of the most beautiful in Egypt, it is generally regarded as the largest and most magnificent of the temples built under Ramesses II’s rule.

Four 20 m tall colossal statues, each of which depicts Ramesses II seated on a throne, flank the entrance to the Great Temple. Hieroglyphs that celebrate Ramses II’s significant victory at the Battle of Kadesh are adorning the main temple’s façade.
Upon entering the enormous temple, one finds a number of rooms honoring Ramses and significant members of his family. Except for two days a year, the sanctum sanctorum’s final room is always dark. This was not accomplished by accident; it took extensive knowledge of science, mathematics, architecture, and astronomy.

The Small Temple

The goddess Hathor is honored in the second temple, known as the Small Temple. It was created to honor Nefertari, Ramses’ favorite wife, despite being considerably smaller than the first. The queen and the pharaoh seem to be on equal footing. The Temple of Hathor and Nefertari is another name for it.
Two groups of colossi that are separated by the massive gateway adorn the temple’s rock-cut façade.

Sun alignment with the Ramses II Temple in Abu Simbel

Two times a year, the sun shines in the deepest parts of the larger temple because it is aligned with the sun, illuminating a statue of Ramses and the gods to whom the temple is dedicated.

The ancient builders placed the temple so that sunlight entered the room on February 22, the day of his coronation, and on October 22, his birthday. The four statues in the sanctuary as well as the hallway of the temple are illuminated by the sun as it rises on these two days. The first three statues show Ammon Ra (the sun god), and Ramses II of Egypt (the king of the gods). Ramses was categorized with the gods because, like the other pharaohs, he thought of himself as a god. The fourth statue is still in shadow as it represents Ptah, the god of darkness. This statue has been in the dark for more than 3,200 years.

What is the Abu Simbel Sun Festival?

The Temples of Abu Simbel host international celebrations twice a year to honor the achievements of the ancient Egyptians. The central chamber of the temple is lit by the sun during the appropriately named Sun Festival.

When is the Sun Festival at Abu Simbel?

Every year on February 22 and October 22, the Abu Simbel Sun Festival is celebrated with great fanfare. Thousands of people gather early in the morning to witness this evidence of the knowledge and skill the ancient Egyptians possessed in order to align the temple so precisely.

How to get to the Abu Simbel Temples?

The temples are located several hours drive, south of Aswan, but most tourists actually arrive at Abu Simbel by plane. The flight from Aswan is only 30 minutes and there are two flights a day, timed so that tourists will have about two hours to spend at the temples.

It is also possible to visit Abu Simbel by joining a Lake Nasser cruise. These ships moor just in front of the temples so that passengers have a chance to see the temples by moonlight and in the early morning light.

Visit Abu Simble temple during your tour on board of Nile cruise between Luxor And Aswan with Al Sahel Travel

 

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