Saturday, December 18, 2010

An adventure to the Middle East ( Part 8 ) The Temples of Abu Simbel

Our wake up call today was quite early... we had to get ready to go to the airport to catch a plane to Abu Simbel.

The trip to Abu Simbel was an hour. According to  our itinerary -- our stay at Abu Simbel was only 2 hours. I wondered to myself if that was enough time to appreciate the most talked about temples of Abu Simbel.

The flight lasts an hour and the plane actually flies over the temple. If you are lucky enough to be on the left side of the plane when it flies over the temples you can actually look down and see them. It was an awesome sight !!!

Abu Simbel lies near the Egyptian border with Sudan. The closest major town in Aswan. You can get to the temples of Abu Simbel by plane from Cairo or Aswan, or rent a car. There are also daily buses from Aswan to Abu Simbel..... the bus ride takes 4 hours.  The easiest option is what we took --- we flew which was very expensive. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as " Nubian Monuments ".

When you arrive in Abu Simbel, you go through a visitor's center, where you can watch a movie about UNESCO----- the moving of the temples in 1960 and read various info about the temples. If you watch the short movie clip, you will know that the temple, as it is seen today, is built into a fake mountain. The real mountain is now submerged by the Lake Nasser. 

Seeing photos of the complex at Abu Simbel could never do justice to it. It is difficult to realize just how huge it is till you see it in person. It is awe inspiring. Ramses II had four massive statues of himself built at the entrance of the temple that honors Amun Ra, the sun god. These statues are probably as tall as a three-story building. There are several smaller figures situated at the feet of the four statues. Those are the members of the pharaohs family.  It is incredible to see.

After Randa explained some of the history behind Abu Simbel we were looking at, we had maybe an hour to wander around on our own. Not nearly enough time though.

Next to the pyramids of Giza, Abu Simbel is perhaps the most recognized monument of ancient Egypt. The temples built for the pharaohs Ramses II have been attracting visitors since the Victorian times. Almost as impressive as the monument itself is the story of its restoration in the 1960's to avoid being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser. The temples have to be dismantled and physically removed 60 meters up the cliff where they were reassembled in the exact same relation to each other and the sun. The temple was cut into equal-size blocks and moved and reassembled once more.

The smaller Abu Simbel Temple --- Located a hundred meters away from the temple carved in the rock by Ramses II was dedicated to  goddess of Love and Beauty, Hathur and his wife Nefertari.

The facade is adorned by 6 statues. The entrance leads to a hall containing 6 pillars bearing the head of the goddess Hathur.

You must take a sunblock and a bottle of water when you will visit the temple. It is advisable to wear very comfortable clothes during your visit to Abu Simbel. It gets pretty crowded at the site. The best time to visit this site is during November to February ( their winter season ). The summers in Abu Simbel, Egypt are very hot.

This is the most awesome sight to the visitor, for here you will find the greatest artificial dome that bears the man-made mountain behind the temples of Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel is an architectural must visit!!! I must admit... Abu Simbel was one of my favorite temples in Egypt. My description for this place is Amazing and beautiful and it deserves to be the 8th wonder of the world. I thought I had seen the best of the temples in Egypt until I went to Abu Simbel. I could not believe it has retained its glory after being moved. The pictures we see of Abu Simbel do not do justice to it. Abu Simbel is utterly breathtaking and somewhere everybody should visit before they die.

Abu Simbel is definitely a " NOT TO BE MISSED " site. I strongly recommend seeing this temple to everyone who visits Egypt.


1 comment:

  1. I was there with you, but I still love reading about it. It brings back such good memories and I really like the information you add.