The temples of Abu Simbel is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating places in Egypt. Its rock-cut temples, with their colossal statues at the entrance, are of impressive beauty. It is difficult to explain with words the first impression when you get to this fascinating place.
1. Where are the temples of Abu Simbel?
It is located at the banks of the Aswan Dam, very close to the border with Sudan.
It was not the original situation. It was relocated because it was going to be under water when the Aswan dam was built. Egypt, with the help of several countries (Spain among them), made the transfer to the current situation.
In appreciation of the help given, several of the temples were donated to the countries involved in the relocation of the temples of Abu Simbel: the temple of Debod was sent to Madrid, the temple of Ellesiya to the Egyptian Museum of Turin, …
2. How to get to the temples of Abu Simbel?
Due to its location, there are 2 options to get there:
- By plane: It is the most direct and quick way to get there. You have direct flights from Cairo to Aswan and, with a stopover in the latter city, to an airport located on the outskirts of Abu Simbel.
- By boat: You have the option of traveling the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, visiting along the way many of the treasures that Egypt has.
In the case of not flying from Aswan to the Abu Simbel airport, you must travel by bus. The tour is not short (290 km), so it will take you 3 hours to arrive.
We were going with an agency, so we flew from Cairo to Aswan. Once there, we took the bus and went to visit the temples of Abu Simbel (also the dam of Aswan and the unfinished obelisk). Once we toured these places, we continued the trip, but this time by boat on the Nile. In this way we enjoy the rest of the tourist places in a comfortable and charming way.
3. Where to stay to see the temples of Abu Simbel?
The nearest population is Aswan, where you can find a good hotel offer. However, you also have the option to embark on one of the cruises that travel in Nile until you reach the city of Luxor. In this way you will have transportation and accommodation at the same time.
4. The temples of Abu Simbel
They are 2 temples of great beauty. One dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II and the other to his first wife, Nefertari. Both are in very good state of preservation, as they were buried under the desert sand until the 19th century.
Templo de Ramsés II
Also known as Abu Simbel’s largest temple, it is the greatest jewel of this archaeological site. Excavated in the rock, it stands out for its majestic frontal with 4 colossal statues of Ramses II (they measure 20 meters high).
And not only can you see the statues of Ramses II, the facade was also decorated with smaller statues of members of the family of Pharaoh.
In the first room of the temple (hypostyle) you can see several statues of large size, representing Ramses as Osiris, the god of the underworld, and some decorated walls with scenes of great battles fought by this pharaoh (like the famous battle of Qadesh).
Already inside, you can see several more rooms until you reach the temple sanctuary, where the sculptures of 4 gods are found: Ra- Horajti, Ramses deified, Amon and Ptah.
You can also see on the walls a multitude of the famous Egyptian hieroglyphs, also considered as “the language of the Gods”.
Temple of Nefertari
Built in honor of Ramses II’s favorite wife, Nefertari, is somewhat smaller than the main temple. However, it contains a beautiful facade in which you can see 6 detailed statues (4 of them representing Ramses II and 2 in honor of Nefertari). All in the same size, something not very usual as it used to represent the Pharaoh’s size.
5. Other places of interest nearby
While Abu Simbel is the main attraction in the area, there are also other places of interest to visit in southern Egypt:
Dam of Aswan
This impressive construction, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century (Low Dam) and ended in 1970 (High Dam), is one of the largest dams in the world. Its numbers are impressive: 480 km long, 16 km at its widest part, 6,000 km² in area and a volume of water between 150 and 165 km³.
It was built to control the floods of the Nile River and prevent flooding in crops, which caused terrible famines.
But it not only regulates the floods of the Nile River, it also generates energy with the hydroelectric power station located in the high dam. The size of the plant is such that electricity is generated to cover the needs of 12% of Egypt (50% in 1970).
Still located in a quarry, today inside the city of Aswan, is the so-called unfinished obelisk. Here you can see how the process was done to get an obelisk from a block of rock.
It is curious how it was possible to get such perfect blocks using only chisels, maces and wedges of wet wood. The perfection in the cut calls attention even today.
It never ended because, during the extraction process, it cracked.
This is how the temples of Abu Simbel looks today, one of the jewels of Egypt. And not only these temples stand out in Egypt, there are a multitude of ancient and mysterious places to visit: the mythical pyramids, the Temple of Hatshepsut, Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Cairo, …
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