Abu Simbel 280 kilometers south of Aswan and north of Lake Nasser on the Nile, the Abu Simbel temples are mythical places. Formerly named Ibsambul, this archaeological site consisting of two temples dug into the rock was built by Pharaoh Ramses II. Famous Pharaoh, he lived during the time of the New Empire (from 1500 to 1000 BC). The Temples of Abu Simbel are one of the most important relics of Nubia to have resisted the imprecations of time over more than three millennia.
The region of Nubia was strategic for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Indeed, it represents an essential crossroads in Africa. Nubia facilitates transactions to southern Africa. Gold and precious stone mines are numerous there: they generated enormous revenues for the Egyptian government. Building such a monumental complex was also of political interest. In the eyes of Ramses II, Abu Simbel was certainly a propaganda tool. The goal: to intimidate the Nubians and his enemies.
During the construction of the Aswan Dam, the temples were relocated on the UNESCO initiative. More than 1,000 blocks of stone, each weighing 20 to 30 tonnes, were cut, transported, and then reassembled on an artificial hill 65 meters higher than their original location. After four years of work, the Abu Simbel temples were saved in 1968.
The temples were excavated in the rock during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BC, as a monument dedicated to the pharaoh and his wife Nefertari, to commemorate their alleged victory in the battle of Qadesh and to show their power to their Nubian neighbors.
The interior of the temple has the same layout as most ancient Egyptian temples, with rooms decreasing in size as you approach the sanctuary. The temple has a complex and rather unusual structure due to its main side chambers. The hypostyle room is 18 meters long and 16.7 meters wide and is supported by eight large Osirian pillars representing deified Ramses linked to the god Osiris, the god of the underworld, to indicate the imperishable nature of the pharaoh. The colossal statues along the left-hand wall bear the white crown of Upper Egypt, while those on the opposite side carry the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The bas-reliefs on the walls of the hypostyle hall present scenes of battles in military campaigns fought during the reign of Ramses II. Many of them refe to the battle of Qadesh, on the Orontes River in present-day Syria, where the pharaoh fought the Hittites. The most famous relief shows the king in his chariot shooting arrows at his retreating enemies, who are being taken, prisoner. Other scenes show Egyptian victories in Libya and Nubia.
Once there, if you did not go through a tour operator, you have to buy the ticket to access the temples. For the price of the entrance ticket, (about 240 Egyptian pounds ).
The ticket allows access to the 2 temples, but please note that photos are not allowed inside the temples. This is to preserve the paintings still present on some walls. And with or without flash!
In the evening it is possible to attend a sound and light show in Abu Simbel. This one takes place at 18h in summer, and at 19h in winter. For this, it is necessary to count 300 Egyptian pounds. It is quite far from the historical site of the site, but it allows those who spend a night nearby to enjoy this moment.