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
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.
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.