Temples of Abu Simbel

By the order of the great Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II in the year 34 of his reign (1290 BC), The two unique temples were carved into the pinkish sandstone rocks of Abu Simbel, 280 Km (175 miles) south of Aswan. The two temples face east to receive the rays of the rising sun. It is still a mystery to archaeologists how the ancient Egyptians could have designed and built such miraculous structures? How they could have known that they could dig 60 m (197 ft) into the rock without encountering any faults in the stone? The two temples are some of the most remarkable achievements of the ancient world. They were first seen by modern Western eyes in 1813, but it was not until the UNESCO Salvage Campaign that they became one of the most popular sites for travelers to Egypt.

The site of Abu Simbel enjoys a special relation to the goddess Hathor, goddess of beauty and love in Ancient Egypt. It was dedicated to Ramses II’s beautiful queen Nefertari as Hathor, while the great temple was dedicated to the worship of god Amun, Re-Horakhti, Ptah, and Ramses II himself as god-king, and one of the gods of Nubia.

The great temple is fronted by four colossal seated statues of Ramses the Great surrounded by 11 figures of members of his family. At the southern edge of the temple façade is inscribed a document describing the marriage of Ramses II to a foreign princess. The walls of the temple are decorated with elaborated scenes represent the famous war of Ramses II against the Hittites known as the battle of Qadesh, other scenes showing Ramses II giving offerings.

The sanctuary of the temple is located at the western end and dominated by four rock cut satues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramses II, and Re-Horakhti. The architects and astronomers wrought magic in the design of the temple: twice each year, on February 22 and October 22, the rays of the sun come in through the front entrance and travel straight through the temple until they reach the sanctuary in order to illuminate the face of Ramses II for twenty minutes. It has been suggested that this magical event represents the birth and the ascension to the throne of Ramses II.