Abu SimbelAbu Simbel is 280km south of Aswan. A long bus ride or a short plane ride. We took the plane (and spent a little longer in it than we expected when a sandstorm grounded us at Abu Simbel airport).
The main (only?) attraction at Abu Simbel is the temple - or rather the two temples - the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor. These were carved into the west bank of the Nile between 1274 and 1244 BCE.
Between 1963 and 1968 an international team dug away the top of the cliff and completely disassembled both temples, reconstructing them on high ground more than 60 metres above their previous site. In all, some 16,000 blocks were moved.
The statues of Ramses II alone are huge. An ear is about a metre across. The shoulders are about 8m wide. But it isn't just the facades that was moved. Behind them are reasonable sized temples.
The Great Temple of Ramses II
|The outside of the Great Temple of Ramses II. The seated figures represent Ramses II.
|Great Hypostyle Hall inside the Great Temple. Again the statues represent Ramses II.
|Close up of Holy of Holies. This is lit naturally twice a year as sunlight streams down the corridor.
|Close up of Ramses II statue.
The small figure on the right is his most famous wife - Queen Nefertari. Underfoot are his enemies. As this is the southern side, these are enemies from the south.
|Storeroom in the Great Temple showing Ramses II making an offering to Amun.
|Detail in second hall of Great Temple
The Temple of Hathor
|The outside of the Hathor Temple. Four of the figures represent Ramses II and two are Queen Nefertari.
|Hypostyle Hall inside the Hathor Temple with Hathor capitals.
|Ramses II being crowned by Set and Horus.
Even the Temple of Hathor depicts the military might of Ramses II.
To the far right, Ramses overcomes his northern enemies while Nefertari looks on. (The south side of the pylon shows him over coming the southern enemy while the northern side shows him over coming the northern enemy. Note the different facial features from the southern enemies shown above.)
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