Welcome back to another one of my Egypt posts! Today I bring you as far South as we are going to go – to the magnificent Abu Simbel. These temples are certainly a site to be seen and it is incredible they are still as intact and preserved as they are dating back more than 3,000 years. Of all of the places I visited during my two week trip to Egypt these temples were definitely the most difficult to get to but certainly one of the prettiest! The two temples, The Great Temple of Ramesses II and the Small Temple of Hathor and Nefertari, are located 240km from Aswan and we actually ended up taking a 45 minute flight to and from to get there (and it sure beats a seven hour drive each way).
There is a very popular saying TIA – this is Africa – which may sound like a joke until you are in Africa and this phrase is used to used to shrug off a whole range of inconveniences like flight delays. Since our flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel was more than two hours delayed were only going to have a matter of minutes at the temples so I physically ran to them. (You can see more in my story highlights) In the end it all worked out though, we had more than enough time to explore both temples and even a bit of shopping at the stores near the tickets.
I had known the main temple had four statues of Ramesses II out front but it is only until you are standing in front of them that you can truly grasp the magnitude of 70 foot tall seated statues – and there are four of them! Both of these temples were built by King Ramses II in the Egyptian part of Nubia (south Egypt, close to Sudan) in honor of his wife though there are certainly more statues of him than there are of her. I think it is incredibly fascinating that while these temples look like they have been here for centuries they w4ere actually moved just over 50 years ago from their original location to their current spot on an artificial domed pile of dirt above the Aswan High Dam reservoir so they would no longer flood seasonally in Lake Nasser.
The second temple, which would be incredible on it’s own but is a bit overshadowed by the bigger one, of Ramesses II built for his wife Nefertari. Across this temple you can see hieroglyphics and they re covered in what looks like a pendant, a rectangle with curved tops and bottoms called cartouches. These cartouches are one of the ways historians know so much about temples that are more than 3,000 years old – they clearly say who the temple was built by and who it is dedicated to. Before we went inside our guide pointed out one stating that Ramesses II paid for the temple “for the Chief Queen Nefertari… for whom the sun shines.” So lovely! take a look:
Would you want to visit Abu Simbel?