TravelHoundz Egypt

Abu Simbel (1/2)

January 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

If you want to know more about Ramses II this is a great place to start…the two temples make a statement like no other about how Ramses II displayed his might. The site is also famous as it had to be literally cut apart and reassembled to escape the rising level of the Nile after the construction of the Aswan Dam.


For photos, click here.

Abu Simbel

So there are two main reasons why this Ramses II shrine is so impressive. The first has to do with its clear theme – don’t mess with Ramses II. The cave-like temple was carved into a rock (rather than constructed) and is fronted with enormous replicas of the man himself (actually more like a god since pharaohs were considered to be). You would probably get to about ankle height standing next to one of them. Inside offers another view into how important hieroglyphics were. Every surface, walls, columns ceilings are carved with stories about Ramses II and his mostly successful war mongering.

So the second thing is more of a modern twist. Since Egypt built the newer High Aswan Dam, the location where Abu Simbel was originally built fell below the waterline. So in the 1960s the government and UNESCO turned the temple into one of the biggest stone jigsaw puzzles. Remember that this was a carved temple, unlike the others in Egypt that were constructed with blocks or pillars. So that meant that the Egyptians had to actually cut apart the entire temple into 1423 blocks, move it 200m to higher ground, and reassemble the entire monument.

In order to see the site we had to take a puddle jumper airplane from Luxor to Abu Simbel. I forgot to mention there is nothing near Abu Simbel except the monument, the airport built to bring tourists in, and the masses of tour buses shuttling people back and forth. Even so, the short flight over is very dramatic. You can see the already wide Nile explode over the desert into a giant reservoir (known as Lake Nassar) surrounded by nothing but sandy rock. Depending on how you view it, the proximity of the airport is either a good or bad thing. Our plane flew directly over the temple for a great aerial shot, but those planes fly in and out every 30 minutes so when you are actually at the site it gets old pretty quick.

Tags: Egypt

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