This monumental temple complex was built by King Ramses II (c.1279-1213 B.C.E.) in what was once known as ancient Nubia, as a demonstration of both his worldly and divine power. He was the most prolific pharaoh in terms of building works, and a highly accomplished military leader.
In the early 1960s the entire temple complex was moved to higher ground when the Aswan Dam caused Lake Nasser to rise and inundate the area. The two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they were reassembled, in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain. Most of the joins in the stone have now been filled, but inside the temples it is still possible to see where the blocks were cut.
The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel (108 feet high and 125 feet wide) is cut into the face of a sandstone cliff, with its entrance guarded by four colossal (65 feet high) statues of King Ramses II. At the feet of these statues are smaller statues of the Kings children. Above the entranceway in a niche stands a statue of the sun god, a falcon headed representation of Ramses. Inside the entrance way lies the Grand Hall (57 feet high and 52 feet wide), which is supported by 8 columns – with statues of King Ramses II – and has grandiose battle scenes on the walls. To either side of the Grand Hall are two smaller treasury rooms. Beyond the Grand Hall is the Hypostyle Hall containing flowered pillars and scenes of the King and his wife, Nefertari. Finally you reach the inner sanctuary and the statues of Ra, Ramses II, Amun and Ptah seated against the far wall.
The temple faces east, and at the solstices – twice a year – the dawn sunlight is aligned to light the entire length of the temple entrance corridor (some 200 feet inside), lighting up three of the four statues at the end of the corridor, but never that of Ptah, the god of darkness. The Solstices’ commemorate Ramses II’s ascension to the throne (22nd February) and his birthday (22nd October).
We have departures on all the tours listed below on the 17th October 2009. These will be in Aswan in time to visit Abu Simbel on the 21st October, when the sun will still shine in through the temple entrance, though not to the same effect. This is a very popular time to visit the temples, and we will need to book the Abu Simbel option a week or so in advance for you to guarantee flights.
The Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel was built by Ramesses II to honour both Hathor as the goddess of love and music and his wife Nefertari as the deified queen. The facade resembles a pylon, just as the larger temple of Ramesses II, and the entrance is flanked by six standing colossal (over 33 feet) statues. On each side of the entrance stand two statues of Ramesses flank by one of Nefertari dressed as Hathor. Like at Ramesses II’s temple, there are children depicted around their feet. There are cobras protecting the Temple door.
The three-thousand-year-old rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel and the story of their rescue from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in the 1960s are almost as familiar worldwide as the tale of the gold funerary mask and brief life of the boy king Tutankhamun. Yet although they remain among the most celebrated, visited, and photographed archaeological sites in the world, the lower Nubian temples—from Philae in the north to Abu Simbel in the south—are some of the least understood by the visitor.
In this lucidly written, beautifully illustrated book, Nigel Fletcher-Jones places the temples in their historical context, telling the story of the discovery of the Abu Simbel temples, and why and how they were moved, explaining what the Nubian temples teach us about ancient Egypt, which gods and goddesses were worshiped there, and the place of Rameses II in the long line of ancient Egyptian kings and queens.
The three-thousand-year-old rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel and the story of their rescue from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in the 1960s are almost as familiar worldwide as the tale of the gold funerary mask and brief life of the boy king Tutankhamun. Yet although they are among the most celebrated, visited, and photographed archaeological sites in the world, the two temples are among the least understood by the visitor.
In this lucidly written, beautifully illustrated guide, Nigel Fletcher-Jones explains the main features of both temples, discusses what they teach us about ancient Egypt during the reign of Rameses II (1265–1200 BC), and illustrates which gods and goddesses were worshipped here.
The temples of Abu Simbel have fascinated travelers since they became known to the Western world in the nineteenth century. And since the 1960s when the rising waters created by the Aswan High Dam threatened to engulf the site, visitors’ imaginations have been captivated by the elaborate international rescue operation, described by the author as ‘’a great moment that no one will ever forget: the most advanced technology of the twentieth century was used to save one of the most amazing achievements of a civilization that preceeded it by 3,300 years.’’
Prepared by one of the world’s best-known Egyptologists, Dr. Zahi Hawass, this lavishly illustrated book is the ideal companion on a visit to the unique monuments of Abu Simbel.
If you are looking for a tour and not finding what you are looking for, have a look at our best other related tours to check out for your travel plans. At Encounters Travel, we offer a variety of tours to suit your needs. So sit back, relax, and let us help you plan the perfect getaway.
This special Egypt tour features the amazing Sun Festival at the Abu Simbel temple to Ramses II on the 22nd Feb and 22nd Oct each year. We combine this with time in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor, discovering more of ancient Egypt.
This classic 10-day tour is a great introduction to the main sites of Egypt. Spend time in Cairo then head to the Nile Valley for a 1-night felucca cruise down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, and finish with some time by the Red Sea
A great introduction to Egypt, travel through the Nile Valley visiting Egypt's ancient sites. From the Pyramids & Sphinx in Cairo, to Abu Simbel, the Valley of the Kings & Karnak Temple, including a felucca cruise along the Nile.
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I’ve just returned from Egypt, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about my tour. Although I have travelled to Egypt several times before, this was my first time since I started working for Egypt Uncovered. I joined the Nile Explorer tour on the 23rd May and what a great time I had!