7 Interesting Abu Simbel Temple Facts To Know

Abu Simbel, one of Egypt’s most iconic monuments, is not located in the popular cities of Cairo, Luxor or Alexandria. Instead, it can be found in the small village of Abu Simbel near Aswan and Sudan. The temples sit on the western bank of Lake Nasser and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as ‘the Nubian Monuments’.

Discover some intriguing facts about this pharaonic landmark, including forgotten pharaohs and its relocation.

The Dual Temples of Abu Simbel: A Testament to Ramses II and Queen Nefertari’s Legacy

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The Abu Simbel temple complex consists of two rock-cut temples built during the reign of King Ramses II in the 13th century B.C. The first temple is dedicated to the pharaoh himself, while the second temple is dedicated to his wife, Queen Nefertari. Both temples are considered a testament to the pharaoh’s legacy and his devotion to his queen.

The temple of Ramses II features four colossal statues of the pharaoh, each measuring 20 meters in height. The temple also has intricate carvings and inscriptions detailing the pharaoh’s many military victories and accomplishments. The temple of Queen Nefertari, on the other hand, is smaller in size but still features impressive statues and intricate carvings, including depictions of the queen in the company of the gods.

Despite being separated by over 100 meters, the two temples are perfectly aligned to capture the sun’s rays during the biannual phenomenon known as the Abu Simbel Sun Festival. During this event, the interior of the temple is illuminated by the sun, illuminating the statues and wall carvings in a breathtaking display of ancient architecture and astronomical precision.

The construction of these temples was a massive undertaking, with both being carved directly into the sandstone cliffs overlooking the Nile River. The temples were carefully dismantled and relocated in the 1960s due to the rising waters of the newly created Lake Nasser. This impressive feat of engineering allowed the temples to be preserved for future generations to enjoy and admire.

Today, the Abu Simbel temple complex is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. The dual temples of Abu Simbel stand as a testament to the power and grandeur of ancient Egypt, as well as the enduring love between Ramses II and Queen Nefertari.

Nile River Cruises and Visiting Abu Simbel

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The temples at Abu Simbel are a popular attraction for Nile River cruises, providing passengers with breathtaking views of the structures from the water. While some cruises stop at the site to allow passengers to explore the temples up close, others may only offer a brief glimpse of the temples from afar.

Visitors to Abu Simbel must pay an entrance fee to access the temples. The fee includes access to both the Ramses II and Nefertari temples, as well as the adjacent museum. Cameras are not permitted inside the temples, but visitors are welcome to take photos outside.

When planning a trip to Abu Simbel, it’s important to research the various Nile River cruise options to ensure the chosen cruise includes a stop at the temple site. Some cruises may include the entrance fee to the temples in the overall cost of the cruise, while others may require passengers to pay the fee separately. It’s also worth noting that the entrance fee is subject to change, so it’s best to check the most up-to-date information before planning a visit.

Queen Nefertari – The Beloved Wife of King Ramses II and Her Temple at Abu Simbel


Queen Nefertari was not just any ordinary wife of King Ramses II. She was not only known for her beauty, but also for her intelligence and her diplomatic skills. In fact, she played a crucial role in the political life of Egypt, accompanying her husband on many of his military campaigns and serving as a mediator in diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

The temple dedicated to Queen Nefertari is one of the most beautifully decorated temples in Egypt. Its walls are adorned with intricate reliefs and colorful paintings depicting the queen in various scenes of everyday life and in religious ceremonies. The temple also contains several chambers, including a hypostyle hall and a sanctuary, where the statue of the goddess Hathor was worshipped.

The dedication of the temple to Queen Nefertari is a testament to the importance of women in ancient Egyptian society. Despite being a patriarchal society, women were respected and revered, and they played important roles in both public and private life. The temple of Queen Nefertari is a reflection of this, and it remains an important historical and cultural site to this day.

The Threat of Lake Nasser on Abu Simbel Temples

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The Abu Simbel temples have been threatened in the past by the rising waters of Lake Nasser, caused by the construction of the High Dam. The temples were relocated to their current location in the 1960s to prevent them from being submerged in the lake. Today, visitors can take a Lake Nasser cruise and make a side stop to visit the temples.

The construction of the High Dam in the 1960s caused the waters of Lake Nasser to rise and posed a significant threat to the Abu Simbel temples. If they had not been relocated, they would have been submerged underwater, lost to history forever.

The relocation process was a massive undertaking, involving cutting the temples into blocks and moving them to their current location above the high-water mark. The process took several years and involved the help of many international organizations, including UNESCO.

Today, the temples remain a popular tourist destination, and visitors can access them by taking a Lake Nasser cruise. The cruise includes a side stop to visit the temples and learn about their fascinating history and the relocation process.

Despite the threat that Lake Nasser once posed, the Abu Simbel temples continue to stand as a testament to ancient Egyptian history and the impressive feats of engineering and preservation that have allowed them to survive to the present day.

The Relocation of Abu Simbel Temple

The relocation of Abu Simbel Temple was a massive undertaking that required intricate planning and execution. In the 1960s, the construction of the High Dam in Aswan caused the water levels of Lake Nasser to rise, threatening the temples with flooding. The Egyptian government collaborated with UNESCO to move the temples to a higher location.

The process involved cutting the two structures of the temple into many different pieces and reassembling them in a new location 65 meters above the original spot and 200 meters further back from the shoreline. The temples were moved block by block, and the entire process took several years to complete.

The relocation of Abu Simbel Temple was a significant achievement in engineering and preservation. It ensured that this precious piece of ancient Egyptian history would not be lost to the rising waters of the lake. Today, visitors can still marvel at the grandeur of the temples and appreciate the monumental effort that went into their relocation.

Convenient Accommodation Near Abu Simbel Temple

The Nefertari Hotel Abu Simbel is a great choice for visitors who want to stay close to the temple structures. The hotel is located just a short distance away, making it an ideal choice for those who want to explore the Abu Simbel Temple complex without needing to hire a vehicle.

The Nefertari Hotel is well equipped with all the necessary amenities to ensure guests have a comfortable stay. With spacious rooms and a welcoming atmosphere, guests can relax and unwind after a long day of exploring the temples. Additionally, the hotel’s location allows guests to take advantage of the beautiful views of Lake Nasser and the surrounding desert landscape.

The Astonishing Artwork

The Abu Simbel Temple is renowned for its stunning artwork, which includes hand-carved pillars, wall paintings, statues, and carvings. The artwork is incredibly intricate and has survived for thousands of years. However, it is also delicate, which is why cameras are not allowed inside the temple.

Visitors can witness the grandeur of the artwork in person, but must take care not to damage or fade it. The carvings depict various scenes from ancient Egyptian mythology and history, including images of gods, pharaohs, and battles. The colourful paintings showcase vibrant hues of blue, red, green, and gold. Each piece of artwork has its own unique story to tell, and together they form a tapestry of ancient Egyptian culture and heritage.


Q: Where is the Abu Simbel Temple located?

The Abu Simbel Temple is located in the small village of Abu Simbel, in Aswan near the corner with Sudan. It sits on the western bank of Lake Nasser, 140 miles (230 km) southwest of Aswan.

Q: Who built it?

The Abu Simbel Temple was built during the reign of King Ramses II, sometime in the 1200 B.C. time period. It is actually two individual temples, both rock cut structures, one dedicated to King Ramses II and the other to his wife Queen Nefertari.

Q: Can visitors take pictures inside the Abu Simbel Temple?

No, cameras are not allowed inside the Abu Simbel Temple. This is to prevent any accidental damage or fading of the delicate thousands of years old artwork that decorates both structures of the temple.

Q: How much does it cost to visit the Abu Simbel Temple?

There is an entrance fee to visit the temples. The cost of the ticket is about 200 EGP (Egyptian pounds), which is approximately $12 USD. Some Nile River cruises include the entrance fee for cruise attractions in the price of the cruise while others do not.

Q: How can I get to there?

Visitors can reach the Abu Simbel Temple by flying to Aswan, then taking a domestic flight to Abu Simbel. Alternatively, there are Nile River cruises that include a stop at the temple location, and some may even stop so passengers can visit and explore.

Q: Is there a hotel near the Abu Simbel Temple?

Yes, the Nefertari Hotel Abu Simbel is conveniently located very close to the temple site, and is considered the closest one available. Visitors who want to explore the temple structures do not even require a vehicle, because the hotel is within walking distance for almost everyone.

Q: Why were the Temples relocated?

The rising water of Lake Nasser posed a threat to the Abu Simbel Temple. In 1964, the two structures were cut into many different pieces and moved further away from the water to a location sixty-five meters above the original spot and two hundred meters further back from the shoreline.

Q: How long does it take to explore the Abu Simbel Temple?

Visitors should allow at least two to three hours to explore the Abu Simbel Temple. This will provide ample time to view the incredible hand-carved pillars, wall paintings, carvings, statues, and other artwork that decorate both structures of the temple.


the Abu Simbel Temple is an extraordinary monument of ancient Egyptian history that fascinates tourists and researchers alike. From its unique location to the remarkable artwork and engineering, there is so much to learn and appreciate about this landmark. Whether you’re planning a trip to Egypt or simply interested in the country’s history, the Abu Simbel Temple should definitely be on your list of must-see attractions.

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