Copyright © Egypt, Cradle of Civilization
Abu Simbel is a massive monument standing proudly since the 13th century B.C. in Upper Egypt, 250 kilometers (or 155.343 miles) southeast of Aswan. The second most popular tourist attraction in Egypt after the pyramids is Abu Simbel. The Abu Simbel Temples are a UNESCO recognized site and part of the larger Nubian Monuments. The Temples are two separate temples next to each other carved in red stone.
Abu Simbel Temples built by Ramesses II in Nubia
These gigantic Abu Simbel Temples had to be relocated during the construction of the Aswan High Dam, otherwise they would be buried under the waters of Lake Nasser. The temples now overlook the lake on the western banks and are a must see when visiting Aswan city.
|City of Aswan|
It was built by Rameses II between 1279 and 1213 B.C. to celebrate his domination of Nubia, and his piety to the gods, principally Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakhty and Ptah, as well as his own deification Abu Simbel, much has been said about the purpose of building, like that they were built for Pharaoh Ramesses II and his beloved wife Nefertari.
It was also known as the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun", one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the long reign of Rameses. What has been confirmed by most historians is that it is not debatable that a major reason for its building was to impress Egypt's southern neighbors, and to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the region.
|Ramesses II of Egypt (c. 1270 BCE)|
The interior of the temple is inside the sandstone cliff in the form of a man-made cave cut out of the rock. It consists of a series of halls and rooms extending back a total of 185 feet from the entrance.
|Abu Simbel Temple, Gods' statues|
As you walk to the rear of the temple you come to the Holy of Holies located at the back wall, where you will find four statues of: Ra-Harakhte, Ptah, Amun-Ra and King Ramses II.
|Holiest of the Holies from inside Abu Simbel temple|
The Abu Simbel Festival
The Abu Simbel Temple is second only to the Pyramids in Giza necropolis, and the Abu Simbel Festival is second to none. At sunrise on both days February 21, the king's birthday, and October 22, the date of his coronation, the light creeps into the inner sanctum and shines upon all the statues essentially marking them as god-like. The statue of the god of darkness, Ptah, is appropriately left in the shadows. How this was managed have remained a wonder and a mystery up to now, people in Egypt still celebrate on those dates.
Touring Egypt at this time of the year can make your vacation more special having the privilege of witnessing such a mystical historic biannual event.