The Great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel

Posted by  Daniël Cronk   in       13 years ago     663 Views     Comments Off on The Great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel  

Getting to Abu Simbel involved joining a convoy (there are only 2 per day) - the first at 4:30 in the morning!!! eeks. But arriving at Abu Simble at 8:00. Most people are content with staying only for an hour or so, which means another 3-hour bus ride which I just didn't want to do. Other people, of course, opt to fly; taking 30-minutes from Aswan on EgyptAir.

In ancient times, Abu Simbel was an enigmatic structure hewn into the cliff face along the Nile. The great pharaoh Ramses II wanted those arriving from the southern lands of Nubia to know that they had entered the realm of ancient Egypt. The temple was built and dedicated to the great pharaoh himself, thus deifying himself as the supreme God, along with the sun God of Ra. The temple face is dominated by 4 enthroned colossie of the king, reaching a height of 20-meters. This great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel (meaning literally the Father of the Ear of Corn) is a perfect depiction of the monumentalism of the new kingdom during its imperial heyday, when Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.) waged colonial wars from the Beka'a Valley (in present day Lebanon) down to the 4th cataract of the Nile (in present day Sudan).

Looking up at the statues of Pharoh King Ramses II at Abu Simbel.

In 1960, a request was lodged by the Egyptian Government to the UNESCO to help save the monument from the rising waters of the newly formed Lake Nasser; a result of the daming of the Nile at Aswan. So with the help of over 20 countries from around the world, the brittle sandstone was injected with a resin to help support the stones, then hand-sawn into roughly 1040 blocks of stone weighing up to 30-tons each. These blocks were moved into a falsely created mountain 210 meters back from and 61 meters higher than the original location. The project took almost 4-years to complete, costing UNESCO and allied partners (over 20 countries provided money or services) $40 million.

Abu Simbel in reflection

On my way back from Abu Simbel I stopped at the Temple of Philae, which is right outside of Aswan. The Temple is located on an Island in the Nile River. Like Abu Simbel, Philae was moved from its original location to a new location. This cult temple dates back to the New Kingdom when Biga Island was identified as one of the burial places of Osiris - and the 1st piece of land to emerge from the primordial waters of chaos.

Tomorrow I will be heading north to the city of Luxor for about 4-days. I hope to visit a few tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, along with the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.

Everything of interest costs money, which one should expect. Most temples cost between 35 and 80 egyptian pounds (about $6 to $13). After a while this really begins to add up. But it's all worth it, definitely.


I am very passionate about traveling. My goal is to visit as many places and experience as many things as I can during my short journey on this earth.