Abu Simbel Temple

This site south of Aswan along Lake Nasser's shore is that the most famous altogether of Egypt after the Giza Pyramids. Built by the one of The greatest pharaohs, Ramses, these massive rock-cut temples marked the southern boundary of Egypt with Nubia at the height of its power during the New Kingdom. They were meant to convey the ability of Egypt's rulers to anyone who laid eyes upon them.

Abu Simbel was rediscovered in 1813 by Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckhardt. The temples had been forgotten for long, and the sands had covered nearly most of the large statues. Since 1909 when the sand was finally cleared away, these twin temples became the first famous site in Egypt's south.

Although they appear like monuments to Ramses and his wife, both temples are temples dedicated to the gods. The more significant temple with four huge statues of Ramses seated ahead of it's dedicated to Amun, Ptah, and Re-Harakty. The second temple, still huge although significantly smaller than the primary, was built to honor Ramess's favorite wife, Nefertari, and is devoted to the goddess Hathor.

The temple has six colossal statues on its facade, four depicting Ramesses, and the other two showing Nefertari. The second temple is critical for the status afforded to the wife of the pharaoh, representing her several times on equal footing with the pharaoh.
The enormous temple is illuminated with the sun twice a year, and the sun shines into its deepest recesses to illuminate Ramesses's statue.  The Abu Simbel Sun Festival occurs on February 22nd and October 22nd of each year, with several thousand people gathering early within the morning to determine this testament to the knowledge and skill that the traditional Egyptians possess to align the temple so perfectly.

The temples are located several hours drive south of Aswan, but most tourists make Abu Simbel by plane. The flight from Aswan is simply half-hour, and there are two flights daily, time so that tourists will have about two hours to spend at the temples.
It is also possible to go to Abu Simbel by joining a Nasser cruise. These ships moor just before the temples so that passengers can determine the temples by moonlight and in the early morning light. Looking for a great way to explore this impressive temple, brwose our variety of Egypt Tour to The Temple.

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