Temple Abu-Simbel

The statues of the facade of the Temple Abu-Simbel is one of the main characters of ancient Egypt, as well as Egyptian pyramids or a mask of Tutankhamon in the Cairo Museum. Probably, every reader at least once saw a photo from Abu Simbel in the advertising booklets of sightseeing bureaus, in glossy journals about travel or, as a last resort, in school textbooks. See the photo below.

Despite this popularity in magazines and on TV, the place of Abu Simbel is visited by very few tourists. This is the southernmost attraction of Egypt right on the border with neighboring Sudan (see. card). It’s hard to get here, but the trip is worth.

Talking the phrase "Temple Abu-Simbel" is incorrect, because there is not one here, but two temples, correctly say "temples Abu-Simbel". In Egypt, you can find many ancient iconic buildings, but the overwhelming majority of them are buildings folded from stone blocks. Both temples in Abu-Simbel are not, they are carved right in the rock.

Small temple dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II – Queen Nefertari. This fact itself for Egypt Extraordine, when the temple is dedicated to a woman. In the history of Egypt, you can find only a few such cases. For example, the temple that Pharaoh Ehnatat devoted to Queen Nefertiti.

The facade of a small temple is decorated with the statues of Pharaoh Ramses II and Queen Nefertari, and the statues of spouses have the same height – uniquely for an ancient Egypt. On all other monuments of the sculpture of the queen is always not higher than the knee of Pharaoh. Abu Simbel can be called a love monument and the most romantic landmark of Egypt.

Love Ramses II and Nefertari was probably just crazy. Not only that Ramses II dedicated to her the temple, but also equipped the magnificent tomb in the Tsarits Valley, which is generally accepted the most beautiful among all the asspirrines of the rulers and their wives of the New Kingdom. Now the tomb of Nefertari can see each tourist, its index – QV66.


Abu-Simbel is the name of the village in which they found this temple complex. Naturally, the ancient Egyptians called him differently: "The Temple of Ramses, Petsman Amon".

How to get to Abu-Simbel

It’s not as easy as you get to Luxor or see the sights of Cairo. Abu Simbel is 300 kilometers from the nearest major city Aswan. Usually, travel companies combine an excursion to Aswan and Abu Simbel. Even from Aswan, a trip here takes almost all day.

These 300 kilometers of tourists are brought in buses as part of an organized guarded convoy. Egyptian deserts are dangerous places, it is only for the time of Bedouin Safari peaceful and entertain tourists. Real Bedouins are often robbed passing by cars and even kidnap people. You should not hope to get to Abu-Simbel on a taxi, you will have to buy an excursion, the question is only – what better?

A trip from Hurghada to Abu Simbel takes more than 10 hours, for this reason day excursions are not satisfied here.

From the popular resorts of Egypt on the Red Sea, two-day tours along the Luxor route – Aswan – Abu Simbel. Such tours are very popular, they can be bought in any sightseeing bureau or at the hotel guide.

Another view of the tour – on the plane of local airlines, such a trip is just fit in one full day. Hurghada to Aswan, flight duration – 5 hours (fly with change in Cairo or Luxor). Purely theoretically, you can fly directly to Abu Simbel, because there is own airport. But we have never seen such tours on sale. Look for it may be lucky.

The best way to see Abu Simbel is a cruise on the Nile, which begins with inspection of the pyramids in Giza, the Cairo Museum, Citadel Cairo and the Mosque Mohammed Ali.

Further, tourists on a cruise river liner (in the photo on the right) sail to Luxor and watch the colossus of Memnon, the Khatshepsut temple, the valley of the kings and the tomb of Tutankhamon. On the eastern shore in Luxor, Karnakian and Luxor temples are watching.

After floating on the Nile to EDF, then the com-ombo and ends the cruise of the excursion on Asuan and to Hamam Abu-Simbel.

Such a cruise is an opportunity to see all the significant sights of Egypt for one trip. Of the most important tourist destinations in Egypt, you will miss only Moise Moise and the Monastery of Holy Katerina, as they are far from Nile – on the Sinai Peninsula.

It is important to know – who are devoted to the temples Abu-Simbel

All guides tell the following version: the big temple is dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II, and the small Queen of Nefertari. The erroneous version, as to devote the temple only to the ruler in ancient Egypt was not accepted. Temples were dedicated to Pharaoh with other gods.

Large temple is dedicated to: the gods of Ptahua, Amon, Ra Horakti (God Mountains) and Pharaoh Ramses II. Small goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari.

The second version – the temple is erected in honor of the victory of the Army Ramses II in the battle of Cadet. Such hypothesis was born not by chance. Inside the Big Temple there are several bas-reliefs telling about the battles of Ramses. Including the famous bas-relief about the battle of Cadet.

This version is completely incredible. In ancient Egypt, did not devote the temples to military victories. To perpetuate the tight exploits, put special steles, obeliski or did bas-reliefs in the temples.

A bit of history

Construction in Abu Simbel began in 1264.N.NS. and lasted 20 years. For Pharaoh Ramses II, such a term was not extraordinary, we recall that he ruled 64 years and entered the story as one of the most famous pharaohs.

In total, 6 such temples were built in this region (according to another version 7). They had to strengthen the positions of Egypt and the Egyptian religion in Nubia. Unfortunately, the rest of the temples are not preserved to this day.

After sunset of the new kingdom, Abu Simbel was abandoned. Fortunately, the buildings were carved in the rock, and not built from blocks. Otherwise, they would simply be pulled to building materials, as happened to many ancient monuments in Egypt.

Temples gradually filled with sand, bringing the wind from the desert. By the time the Europeans appeared here, the buildings were buried under the sand layer completely.

In 1813, the Swiss Jean-Louis Burkhard discovered the border of the facade of the Big Temple, he spoke about finding his friend – the Italian researcher Giovanni Belzony. Then in 1813 they could not spread the temple complex, even the entrance was not found.

Belzony returned in 1817, dug off temples and found the entrance. The first description of the Abu Simbel complex did the Englishman Edward William Lane in his book "Description of Egypt".

Transfer of Abu-Simbel temples

In 1958, on December 27, Egypt and the USSR concluded an agreement on the construction of the Asuan Dam and HPP. The project provided for education for a huge lake for a dam, called subsequently "Lake Nasser" in honor of the President of Egypt.

According to the project, the temples of Abu Simbel were to be under water, and after 100-200 years old all the hieroglyphs would be worn on the walls, and the statues turned into the kneadings.

In 1959, a large-scale fund was started to save the monument. Several projects were offered. There was even one very extravagant plan – to protect Abu-Simbel Dambia, creating a lake with clear water around the temples, as pure water would not harm the statues and bas-reliefs. If this plan of William Macquiti was implemented, tourists would now watch the temples Abu-Simbel through the glass of underground tunnel.

But eventually adopted a plan for moving the complex on an artificial hill of 65 meters higher and 200 meters further from the Nile River. In this place temples Abu-Simbel were safe. From 1964 to 1968 they were cut into pieces, transported them to a new place and they were collected back there.

It was the titanic work of archaeologists and engineers from around the world. Blocks weighed to 30 tons, and the project cost 40 million dollars – astronomical at that time the amount. Thanks to this unique archaeological operation, we can now see the victims of the temples Abu-Simbel.

What to look – the facade of the big temple

The main elements of the facade are the four huge statues of Ramses II tall of about 20 meters. On the head of the pharaoh of the Crown of the Upper and Lower Egypt, which is called "PSHT". The total width of the facade is 35 meters.

On the facade there is another very interesting detail that most tourists simply do not notice. At the very top there are 22 small statues of Monkey-Babuins, who pray to the Sun. It is difficult to see them, you can try to see in the photo on the right.

Now many readers will ask: "And where is the baboons in general? That they are special?"

These animals were worshiped in ancient Egypt. Babuines considered the harbingers of dawn, accelerating darkness. One of the gods named Hapi was depicted with babul head. This God was the guard of the Address of Osiris. The main thing is not to confuse him with another God Hapi – the patron of Nile. These two gods have names coincide.

One of the statues to the left of the entrance was very damaged by the earthquake, her legs are in place, but the upper body and the head collapsed. These torso and the head are still lying at the entrance, you can see them.

Near the big statues of Ramses II, you can see small sculptures of his wives and children. According to the tradition of their height not higher knees Statues of Pharaoh. Here are: Queen Nefertari, Queen Mut-Tuya, the first two sons: Amenherpechef and Ramses and six daughters: Bentmouth, Bakemouth, Nefertari, Meritamon, Unbattaya and Incentherthe.

Of course, these are not all the children of Pharaoh Ramses II. Recall that he lived for about 90 years, he had 6 legitimate women and concrete. Scientists have not yet considered all his sons and daughters, but the figure exactly exceeds 100. In all places on the facade, I would definitely be enough.

Right above the entrance you can see the statue of God-character, this is the same god of the mountains with a head of falcon, just in the era of the new kingdom of his "combined" with RA – the main God of Heliopol. On the right and to the left of the Statue of Raharakti on the bas-reliefs depicted by the Pharaoh Ramses II.

Another interesting detail on the facade is a memorable stele that tells about the marriage of Ramses II and the daughter of the King of the Hittte Kingdom – Hattusili II. This marriage was very important, as he graduated from the war between Egypt and Hitts. Recall that Ramses II concluded a written international treaty in the history of our planet, and it was a contract to be hitts. This contract can now be viewed at the Istanbul Museum.

What to watch – inside a big temple

Temple Abu-Simbel

Inside the temples Abu-Simbel can not take pictures. Although, who ever stopped? Tourists manage to photograph to the phone even inside the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, although there is a carefully checks for each visitor.

It is here that the very famous bas-relief is located, on which Ramses II is depicted with onions and on a chariot in the battle of Cadess (in the photo on the right). It is worth seeing to see it, because it is one of the main attractions of Egypt.

After the entrance, visitors enter the large hall of 18 meters in length and 16.7 meters wide. This hypostylene (means – with columns) the hall contains eight large columns, showing the Ramses II link with Osiris – the god of the afterlife. On the walls of this hall, you can see a lot of bas-reliefs, mainly military topics.

Next is another hypostyle hall, but less than size. On the walls here there are also beautiful bas-reliefs showing rituals to the gods. And behind him already the sanctuary, where four statues depict the Ramses II and the gods of Ptah, Raha Harapti and Amon-ra.

In addition to these halls, inside there are many side rooms, each in its own way is interesting.

What to watch – Facade of a Small Temple

The second (small) temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari.

On the left and right of the entrance to the small temple there are two groups of statues of about 10 meters high (in the photo on the left). These sculptures depict Ramses II and Nefertari, and all statues of the same size – an unprecedented case. Typically, the statues of the queens and children of Pharaoh do not exceed the height of the knee level of the ruler.

Similar small statues on the facade are also available, they depict children Ramses and Nefertari. These are princesses Meritamon, Hennutavi and Princes Rakhirvemifef and Amen-Her-Khaphetaf.

Of course, compared with the big temple, the facade of small looks modest. There are no baboons here, but all the statues are completely intact.

What to watch – inside a small temple

It is also forbidden to take pictures here, although tourists do not stop. On the Internet you can find thousands of photos taken inside Abu-Simbel temples.

In the first hall you can watch columns with the image of the goddess Hathor, they even got their name – Hathoric. In general, the plan of the premises here is similar to a large temple, only all the smaller premises.

Bas reliefs depict Ramses and Nefertari, bringing gifts to the gods.

Compared with a large temple where a lot is devoted to the military victories of Ramses II, small looks very peaceful. No wonder, because Hathor is the goddess of love, beauty and femininity. And at the same time, she patronizes motherhood and fertility, songs, dancing and all the rest of the joys of life. Perhaps this is the most positive goddess in the pantheon of the ancient Egyptians.

Important advice

– information for those planning to get independently. Benefit price of temples – 240 Egyptian pounds. Current pound course, see the article "What Money in Egypt";

– in Abu-Simbel is very hot. Always remember to protect against the Sun: Headdress Wear Always, Shoulders cover, It is advisable to use the cream from the sun. Details of protection in our articles "What can not be done in Egypt" and "What to take with you to Egypt";

– in the settlement Abu-Simbel there is no public transport. You can move or walk, or by taxi. Official rates See our article "Taxi in Egypt".

On this notice, we finish our story about Abu Simbel. Read other interesting articles about Egypt on our website (Links below).

Leave your comment. Your opinion is important to us! Show comments Hide comments

Hello! Many thanks for your job on the site. Very helpful and informative. Could you tell us about cruises on the Nile? Looks from Movenpik and T.NS. Are there any more democratic options?

Alexander – Glavred site

thanks for good words. What is the price of a cruise you are looking for? Regular price tag – 500 dollars.

Temple Abu-Simbel

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