The Abu Simbel shrines were originally cut into the slope at the second bend of the Nile River, near the present border with Sudan, during the rule of Ramesses II. The temples were transferred segment by segment to their present location on the lake's western banks after the Aswan High Dam, and the consequent building of Lake Nasser endangered to sink them. The temples are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and they are probably Egypt's most spectacular and well-visited ancient sites.
Why Was Abu Simbel Built?
Historians could only assume why Ramses II chose this location to build such spectacular temples in the 1300s BC. Cave shrines were common in Nubia, hence, there were most likely cave monasteries here from the beginning. Ramses II was also the first emperor to make the final definitive step towards matching king and divinity with the establishment of a temple devoted to himself. The shrines also signified his imperial and godly claim to dominate the gold and copper-rich area of Nubia.
What Is There To Explore For Visitors?
Explore The Great Temple
The Great Temple is known for its 66-foot-high enormous statues that surround the entryway. Ramesses II is depicted in all four statues perched on a throne and donning the Upper and Lower Egyptian double crowns. A set of miniature sculptures at the king's feet are believed to depict his spouse, mother, and eight of his favorite offspring. Visitors can look up to see Ramesses II in bas-relief adorning a Ra-Horakhty deity put into an alcove above the entryway. The temple's layout is divided by rooms and passageways that connect to the inner sanctum. The hypostyle chamber, which is supported by eight massive pillars sculpted in the style of the venerated pharaoh, is the most spectacular of these.
Four statues of Ra-Horakhty, Amun, Ptah, and the venerated Ramesses II occupy the temple's inner courtyard. The sun's rays align with the temple's entryway on two days of the year, allowing them to pass through the inner sanctuary and enlighten three of the gods' visages. Ptah, the Egyptian god of the underworld, is the only one left in the dark. These two dates are said to have held high relevance for Ramesses II, and scholars speculate that they may have represented his birthday and crowning. However, this has not been verified. When the shrine was moved, precautions were taken to maintain the solar orientation.
Then, Move On Onto The Small Temple
The Small Temple is a smaller counterpart of the Great Temple, situated around 150 meters northeastern of it. Two sculptures of Nefertari and four sculptures of Ramesses II, each towering 33 feet in height, defend the entry. The notion that Nefertari is shown as being the same size as her husband is unusual in Egyptian art and demonstrates his high regard for her. Smaller sculptures of the couple's kids rise on both sides of their parents' legs.
Six pillars sustain the hypostyle chamber of this temple, each with images of the queen and numerous divinities. Bas inscriptions in the second chamber and vestibule depict the royal couple making religious gifts. While a sculpture of Hathor in the guise of a heavenly cow stands in the inner sanctum's alcove.
Don't Skip The Light And Sound Show
Visitors should not forget to watch the incredible sound and light performance. This presentation will tell the entire story of the temple, culminating in Ramesses II's history. The entire aura shifts in a moment and visitors will feel as if they have traveled back in time. Many secret facts are nicely unveiled.
So visitors shouldn't let this opportunity pass by. The laser spectacle is held regularly, and the audience enjoys it immensely. If there are fewer than ten people, the show will not begin. This show is truly mind-blowing and incredible in every way.
There Is Another Temple To Explore
The temple of Hathor, in fact, is a significant sight to view in Abu Simbel. It is located near Ramesses' Temple. The sculptures of Ramesses and Nefertari can be found in this temple. Nefertari is discovered in this shrine dressed as Hathos.
As a result, this shrine is well-known throughout the region. Some paintings depicting queens devoting to god may be found on the temple's walls. In this temple, the artwork is quite exquisite.
Should Visitors Hire A Guide?
Visitors can hire a guide to learn more about the historical past of the two temples and Ramesses II, who built the temple. The temple's walls are adorned with inscriptions. Visitors are welcome to read these writings if they so desire. It may take some time to read the sentence on their own, but a guide can assist tourists in doing so.
Best Time To Visit The Temples
- If tourists want to avoid the throng, then they should come in the mid-evening when the sun is setting and the external masonry is bathed in golden colors.
- Dawn is also among the finest time to visit. The vista of the neighboring lake and the sunrise illuminating the temple are truly spectacular.
- The best aspect is the peace and calm inside the temple, which brings the well-lit inscriptions to life.
The temples of Abu Simbel are a breathtaking sight to see, with plenty of history to go along with them. Tourists will undoubtedly love viewing the spectacular masonry structures while discovering more about the Egyptian king. Every history enthusiast or anyone interested in learning more about Egypt should pay a visit to this site.