Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is an archaeological location, wherein two huge rock temples in southern Egypt along the Nile almost 290 km southwest of Aswan are situated. It is a section of the UNESCO World Heritage place of "Nubian Monuments" which is stretched from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae.

The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel includes four seated gigantic sculptures of Ramses II carved into the mountain, creating one of the greatest temple facades on the planet. It is aligned to enable the sun's rays cross through the mountain and light up sanctuary twice a year -- on October 22 and February 22.

Abu Simbel History

Ramses II was a pharaoh of 19th century dynasty of Egypt. He governed for 67 years during the 13th century BC, the culmination of Ancient Egypt's power and glory. This extremely long reign, the funds available in the state coffers, and, undeniably, the pharaoh's personal pride meant that Ramses, of all the early rulers, left what is probably the most enduring mark on the nation. His period can be seen most clearly in the archaeological history – in the several buildings that Ramses altered, encroached, or constructed from the stretch.

Construction of the temple structure begun somewhere in 1284 BC, and completed in almost 20 years. Also considered as the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun", it was one of six rock temples constructed in Nubia in the long reign of Ramesses. Their goal was to impress Egypt's southern neighbors, and also to consolidate the position of Egyptian religion in the region.

Over the period of time, the temples were sunk in sand.  In the 6th century BC, the sand already gulped half of the statues of the main temple. The temple was unnoticed until 1813, when Swiss orientalist J.L. Burckhardt discovered the peak entablature of the primary temple. Burckhardt explained his discovery to Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who visited the site, and was unable to find an entry to the temple. Belzoni hit back in 1817, this time successful in this attempt to find an entry the complex. He carried away all treasure and portable items with him.

In 1959 an international donations drive to save the monuments of Nubia began: the southernmost remnant of this old human civilization were under threat from the increasing waters of the Nile that were expected to go high due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

The restoration of the Abu Simbel temples started in the year 1964, and cost some $80 million. During 1964 throuhg 1968, the entire site was separated into large blocks and reassembled in a new site – nearly 65 m higher and 200m back from the river. An identical project was executed at the island of Philae downriver.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel Information

Type Cultural
Criterion (I) (iii) (vi)
Danger Not endangered
Year 1979
Card UNESCO Heritage (en)
Property (fr)
Names: Abu Simbel
Location: Abu Simbel, Egypt
Faith: Ancient Egyptian
Dedication: Ramses II and Nefertari
Category: Graves and Tombs
Architecture: Egyptian
Date: 1274-1244 BC
Patron(s): Ramses II
Status: Monument

Abu Simbel Temples Informattion

State Party  Egypt
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, vi
Reference 88
Region Arab States
Abu Simbel Temples Inscription History
Inscription 1979  (3rd Session)

Where to See at Abu Simbel

There are two temples and those are most visited by the tourists. The greater one, usually known as the Temple of Ramses II, is dedicated to Ra-Harakhty, Amun and Ptah, Egypt's three contemporary province deities. The smaller temple which is termed as the Temple of Nefertari, is offered to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses's most adored wife Nefertari (the pharaoh used to have 200 wives and mistresses in total).

The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel is usually believed the grandest and most mesmerizing of the temples built during the reign of Ramses II, and one of the most fabulous in Egypt. The facade stands 33 meters high, 38 meters broad, and protected by four statues, each of which is 20 meters high. They were crafted directly from the rock in which the temple was stationed before it was shifted.

All statues symbolized Ramses II, seated on a throne and donning the multiple crown of Upper and Lower Egypt both. The statue standing in the left of the entrance was ruined in a tremor, leaving only the bottom section of the statue intact. Another remarkable component of the facade is the axis which displays the records of the marriage of Ramesses with a daughter of King Hattusili III, which disrupted the peace between Egypt and the Hittites.

The Temple of Nefertari is situated in the north of the Great Temple of Ramses II. It was engraved in the rock by Ramses II and dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of beauty and love, and also to his loving wife, Nefertari, for "whose sake the very sun doeth shine."

At the bottom of the temple, there stands a statue of the goddess Hathor.This is, of course, a most fabulous sight to the visitor; as here one finds the huge artificial dome that displays the man-made mountain behind the Temples of Abu Simbel. It displays the great work of Ramses II.