Egypt is home to so many structures that have equally amazed and baffled even the smartest people in the world. Aside from the pyramids of Giza, The Great Sphinx, ancient mosques, there are still a lot more ancient treasures here that continue to impress and render people speechless.
Another Egyptian treasure is the Abu Simbel, which is made up of two temples near the Egypt and Sudan Border. Constructed for the pharaoh Ramesses II who reigned fussing the 13th century, this temple has structures that have stood, moved, and again stood the test of time—quite literally.
Standing in front of the 100-feet high facade, you will see four statues of the pharaoh. Now damaged by nature and time, it still remains breathtaking at about nearly 70 feet high. The temple, which was introduced to the world in 1813 (it was known before this time, but it was in 1813 that it was really explored by an expert). Thanks to Egyptologist Giovalli Battista Belzoni, the Abu Simbel temples got the recognition it has long deserved.
The story behind the temple Abu Simbel gives enough proof that the people of Egypt will do just about anything to save their greatest treasures. When the Abu Simbel temples were threatened to be submerged in Lake Nasser because of the Lake Nasser Dam construction, the government began to make plans to save it.
Imagine a huge temple being dismantled and then reconstructed again—this is exactly what they did here. Starting at 1964, the temple was salvaged by means of removing them, cutting them into large blocks, then reinstalling them 60 meters up a cliff. When you visit this temple, you will be able to see photographs of how this great rescue process happened.
Two temples stand at the Abu Simbel. The larger one is the Temple of Ramesses II, which is dedicated to Egypt deities Ra-Harakhty, Ptah, and Amun. This is where you’ll find the four huge statues of Ramesses II. At the foot of these statues are also some of Ramesses’s family members. The other Abu Simbel temple—the relatively smaller one—is that of Temple of Nefertari, dedicated to Hathor, Ramesses’s most beloved wife. At the top of the whole façade, you’ll also see a row of baboons with arms stretched to the skies, adoring the rising sun.
It’s been said that this structure—including other overwhelming structures that Ramesses II built in his whole reign, was to impress Egypt‘s neighbors in the south and/or scare would-be enemies that pass by. However high those standards were, it’s pretty much safe to say that they’ve succeeded, because the temple is beautiful and overwhelmingly massive.
Another interesting thing about the statues is that every February 20 and October 20 (or dates near them—the change of location and time have altered the times these events happen), the sun shines on these four huge statues. The reason behind this is what is believed to be the king’s birthday and coronation date, although there has been no clear evidence behind it.
It is possible to go here, and it’s suggested that you stay here for a couple of days to fully experience the place. Usually, visitors just go on a day-trip here, but there are flights from Cairo and Aswan (bus trips from Aswan are also possible with touring agencies or hotels in Abu Simbel), and there are Abu Simbel hotels to welcome visitors (and even guide visitors through their stay). Visitors could also go on Lake Nasser cruises that will give another view of the great temple.