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Abu Simbel Temple: A Must-See for Egypt Travel

May 31
Are you planning a trip to Egypt soon? Are you looking for an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the ancient wonders surrounding you? Then you cannot miss the Abu Simbel Temple, considered a must-see destination that will transport you to the heart of ancient Egyptian civilization. Located in the southern region of Egypt, near the border with Sudan, the temple is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to marvel at its majestic facades, intricate carvings, and rich history. So, if you are ready to embark on a journey back in time, let's explore this breathtaking landmark together and discover why it's a must-visit for any Egypt travel itinerary.

Introduction to Abu Simbel Temple

If planning your trip to Egypt, include Abu Simbel Temple in your itinerary. This temple is located in the southern part of Egypt and is one of the country's most popular and significant temples. Built by Ramesses II over 3000 years ago, Abu Simbel Temple has stood the test of time and is a feat of architecture and artistry. One of the unique features of this temple is that the entire complex was dismantled and relocated to higher ground after the construction of the Aswan High Dam. This temple complex is a visual treat and a testament to the ancient Egyptian civilization's power and glory.

Abu Simbel Temple boasts a fascinating history. The temple's construction started during the 1264BC and lasted for 20 years. The temple complex includes the Great Temple, dedicated to the gods Amon-Ra Ra-Harakhti and Ptah, and the Small Temple, dedicated to Queen Nefertari, Ramesses II's favourite wife. Over time, the temples were forgotten and covered with sand until they were rediscovered in the 19th century. With the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the rising water levels threatened to flood the temples of Abu Simbel. In the 1960s, the entire complex was dismantled, moved to higher ground, and reconstructed, taking over five years of work by more than 50 countries to save the temples.

Getting to Abu Simbel Temple requires some planning. You can plan a day trip from either Aswan or Cairo, but travel times can be long (if you travel by land) or expensive (if you travel by air). If travelling from Aswan, the fastest way to reach Abu Simbel is by direct flight. Egypt Air is the only airline that offers flights to Abu Simbel, and the flights are timed such that you have roughly 2.5 hours in Abu Simbel, which is enough time to visit both temples. If you're up for a long and refreshing drive through the desert, you can take a Luxor and drive from Aswan to Abu Simbel temples. You can also take a bus tour or bike to explore the area independently.

Once you reach Abu Simbel Temple, there are plenty of things to do. You can explore the temple complex, admire the awe-inspiring sculptures and statues, and walk through the ancient ruins available. Don't miss the chance to witness the amazing light and sound show, which fully narrates the story of the temple and Ramesses II in an enchanting ambience. You can also take a break and relax in front of Lake Nassar before returning to Aswan.

Abu Simbel Temple is a must-see for Egypt travel. This temple complex is a perfect blend of history, art, and architecture, leaving you in awe of ancient Egyptian civilization's greatness. Despite the challenging logistics of getting there, it's worth the journey to experience this breathtaking temple. [1][2]

History and Significance of Abu Simbel Temple

Abu Simbel Temple is a remarkable ancient temple located in southern Egypt. Ramesses II built it over 3,000 years ago to showcase the Egyptian empire's might and glorify his name for eternity. The temple complex comprises two temples: the Great Temple, dedicated to the gods Amon-Ra, Ra-Harakhti, and Ptah, and the Small Temple, dedicated to Queen Nefertari, the favourite wife of Ramesses II. The temples were constructed over twenty years and completed in 1244 BC. They were forgotten over time and slowly covered with sand until their rediscovery in 1813 by the Swiss researcher Jean-Louis Burckhardt. Today, Abu Simbel is considered one of the most impressive and unique temples in Egypt, attracting visitors worldwide.

Aside from their historical significance, the temples are notable for their unique architectural features. Four 66-foot seated figures of Ramesses II grace the entrance to the Great Temple, with small figures carved around their feet representing his children, his queen Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy. On two days of the year, February 22 and October 22, the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the whole length of the temple and reach the shrine in its innermost sanctum, demonstrating the exceptional engineering skills of the ancient Egyptians. The Small Temple, with 35-foot statues of Ramesses II and Queen Nefertari, is equally impressive and dedicated to worshipping the goddess Hathor.

One remarkable fact about Abu Simbel is that it almost disappeared underwater when the Aswan High Dam was constructed in the mid-20th century to control the Nile River's flooding. However, an international campaign led by UNESCO raised funds. It mobilized engineers and scientists from more than fifty countries to dismantle the entire complex, move it to higher ground and reconstruct it piece by piece. This process took five years, and the combined effort of thousands of people, with over 16,000 blocks moved. The temples were reopened to the public in 1968 and have been well-preserved.

Visiting Abu Simbel is not always easy, but it is worth it. The complex is 300 kilometres south of Aswan and can be reached by road or air. Flights from Aswan take roughly 45 minutes, and visitors have about an hour and a half to tour the temples before catching the flight back. Alternatively, travelling by car or bus is possible, but the trip can take several hours and is not recommended during the summer months. Despite the logistical challenges, experiencing the majesty, history, and architecture of Abu Simbel is a must-do for any traveller to Egypt. [3][4]

Location and geography of Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel Temple is a true wonder of Egypt that must be seen to be believed. Here are some key facts you should know about this iconic location:

1. Location and Geography: Abu Simbel is a pair of enormous rock temples situated in the southern part of Egypt, near the border with Sudan. They are located on the western bank of the Nile River, about 230 km southwest of Aswan. The temples were carved out of a mountainside in the 13th century BC during the reign of King Ramses II.

2. Historical Significance: Abu Simbel is an important site for understanding ancient Egyptian history. The temples were built to commemorate Ramses II's victory at the Battle of Kadesh and to showcase his leadership and power. The complex was also meant to impress the people of Nubia, a very important region to Egypt because it was a source of valuable trade goods.

3. Iconic Statues: The exterior of the Great Temple is adorned with four enormous statues of Ramses II seated on thrones, each measuring 20 meters in height. He is accompanied by smaller statues of his wife, Queen Nefertari, and his children, all depicted as tiny figures at his feet. The Small Temple features statues of Ramses and Nefertari, each standing 10.5 meters tall.

4. Complex Engineering: Abu Simbel is an important historical site and an engineering marvel. In the 1960s, the temples were relocated to higher ground to avoid being submerged by the newly created Aswan High Dam reservoir. This incredible feat involved moving the entire complex nearly 60 meters vertically and 200 meters horizontally, block by block.

5. Must-See for Egypt Travel: Abu Simbel is one of the most visited sites in Egypt and a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history. The temples are awe-inspiring, both for their size and intricate artistic details. We recommend visiting at sunrise, when the light illuminates the Great Temple's innermost sanctuary, bathing it in a warm glow.

Abu Simbel Temple is a remarkable site with deep historical significance and an impressive and inspiring engineering feat. It's an essential stop on any tour of Egypt and is sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor. [5][6]

How to get to Abu Simbel from Aswan

Abu Simbel Temple is a must-see historical site in Egypt. Located in the southern part of the country, it isn't easy to get to, but visiting it is worth the journey. There are several options for getting to Abu Simbel from Aswan. One option is to fly directly to the temple from Aswan or Cairo. However, we found it more enjoyable to take the scenic route by following the Nile south from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan by train.

Once you reach Aswan, the tricky part begins. Abu Simbel is about 280 kilometres away and can be reached by mini bus, coach, private vehicle tour, or plane. We chose to take a 4 am minibus, which was a bit uncomfortable, but the early morning arrival at the temple was worth it. There are also guided tours available from Aswan, Luxor, or Cairo. It is possible to book these tours online to avoid the hassle of arranging the visit locally.

If you have more time to spare, you can even stay overnight near Abu Simbel. There are several options for lodging in the area. However, if you are short on time and want to see the sunrise over Rameses at the back of the temple, you must journey from Aswan. This event occurs twice a year, on February 22nd and September 22nd. It is a magical experience to watch the light creep into the temple and light up its creator.

Abu Simbel is a historic site consisting of two temples built by King Ramses II, carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the River Nile. The temples were first discovered in 1813 by a Swiss researcher. In the 1960s, they were moved to higher ground since they were being damaged by the reservoir's rising waters created by the Aswan High Dam. Today, the site features four 66-foot seated figures of Ramses II, with two on either side of the entrance.

Overall, visiting Abu Simbel Temple is a unique and unforgettable experience. While it is difficult to get to, several options are available for travellers. We recommend taking the scenic route through the Nile and taking a minibus to the temple. Seeing the sunrise over Rameses is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you shouldn't miss. Add Abu Simbel Temple to your itinerary when planning your visit to Egypt. [7][8]

Visiting Abu Simbel on a day trip

Abu Simbel Temple is one of Egypt's most fascinating historical sites that tourists should not miss visiting. Located on the western bank of Lake Nasser in Nubia, Abu Simbel is known for its twin temples built by Ramesses II over 3000 years ago. The Great Temple of Abu Simbel is dedicated to the gods Amon-Ra, Ra-Harakhti, and Ptah. In contrast, the Small Temple is dedicated to Queen Nefertari, the beloved and favourite wife of Ramesses II. The construction of both temples took twenty years and was completed in 1244 BC. Over time, the temples were forgotten and slowly covered with sand until Jean-Louis Burckhardt rediscovered them in 1813.

To reach Abu Simbel, tourists can take a day trip from Aswan or Cairo. Although travel times can be long if travelling by land or expensive if travelling by air, the temples of Abu Simbel are well worth the visit. Egypt Air is the only airline that offers round-trip flights per day between Aswan and Abu Simbel. One-way flight times average 45 minutes, and the flights are timed such that visitors have roughly an hour and a half to visit the two temples before catching the flight back to Aswan.

Getting to Abu Simbel from Luxor is also possible, but it is not recommended. Although flying is the best option, there are no direct flights, and visitors will have a stopover in Aswan. Driving from Luxor to Abu Simbel can take six hours, which can be tiring. It is advisable to hire a private car or minibus when driving.

Tourists can plan to fully enjoy the Abu Simbel experience by understanding the practical details. Visitors should know that Luxor is also a must-visit destination in Egypt and that several tour operators provide packages to combine both destinations. As for Abu Simbel, tourists should expect to pay an entrance fee and hire a guide to make the most of their visit. The facade of the Great Temple is one of the most striking monuments in Egypt, and the inside is equally impressive. The intricate carvings and paintings on the walls tell the story of Ramesses II and how he made his temple the country's main attraction.

Most importantly, tourists should know that Abu Simbel is a safe destination. Visitors can opt to hire a private guide and a minibus with two drivers, with one driver doubling as a backup. Driving to Abu Simbel from Aswan takes around three hours, and the journey is quite peaceful, with nothing but desert landscapes around you. With proper planning, tourists can make the most of their day trip to Abu Simbel and gain insight into the rich history of ancient Egypt. [9][10]