Abu Simbel Temple

There are some things in life that are hard to believe to be from this world or even exist in our realms like the legendary Abu Simbel temples which stand a holy guardian and a living proof on the marvelous glory and pride of the ancient Egyptians. The Abu Simbel temples were a celestial solar miracle that inspired every single soul that put their eyes on it revealing images of ancient definitions of beauty, glory, and bliss. The temple holds a great deal of incredible information that made it one of the most recognized archaeological destinations across the world. The great temple of Abu Simbel is a true wonder for countless reasons as shown by being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an important Nubian monument.

History of Abu Simbel Temple

The great Abu Simbel temples were constructed by Ramses the Great (1279-1213 BCE) which began in 1264 BC till 1244 BC taking 20 full years which was dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty, the deified Ramesses II (The Great Temple) Ptah, and the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari. It was known as “Temple of Ramesses, Beloved By Amun” and built to two main reasons, the first was for the glorifying and immortalizing his victory and accomplishments and the second was to showcase his love for his beautiful wife Nefertari. The temple was rediscovered after being buried under the sand for a long time in 1813 by Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckardt who was led to the site by an Egyptian Nubian boy called Abu Simbel. The sand was entirely removed off the temple in 1909 to become one of Egypt’s most incredible attractions.

Abu Simbel Temple Location

The great temple of Abu Simbel is located at the end of Upper Egypt on the southern border in the Nubian lands across the border of Sudan on the west bank of the Nile just 230 km (140 mi) southwest of Aswan on the western bank of Lake Nasser carved directly into the mountainside as a symbol for the might of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

The Architecture of Abu Simbel Temples

The design of the temple is a very incredible ability to show the true majesty and glory of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The great temple stands at 30 m high and 35 m long along with four seated colossal statues found in the entrance depicting Ramses the great seating on the throne reaching the height of 20 m (65 ft). There are a number of smaller statues located beneath the giant figures showcasing his defeating his enemies, honoring & protecting the gods and family. The entrance depicts Ramesses II seating on a throne and wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. There are three consecutive halls inside the temps reaching up to 56m (185 ft.) till the end of the temple. The hypostyle hall is 16.7 m wide, 18 m tall, and supported by eight massive Osiris pillars showcasing Ramsess as the ruler of the underworld Osiris to emphasize the everlasting nature of the pharaoh.

Within the hall is the central chamber that contains four statues for each god and decorated with statues of the pharaoh, images with the gods, and also from his victory at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC which marked the signing of the first documented peace treaty in history. On the façade is a row of 22 baboons with their arms raised in the air worshipping the rising sun. In the inner sanctuary of the temple are the four seated gods of Ramsess II, Ptah (God of creation), Amun (The Creator God), and Ra (Sun God) which plays the main role in the sun festival. The Nefertari temple is a delightful work of architecture which is just 100 m northeast of the great temple decorated with two groups of colossi that are separated by a large gateway. It contains two statues of the queen and six statues to her husband King Ramsess II at the height of 10.5m (35 ft.) which are dedicated to “Hathor” the goddess of love, allure, and joy, the sky falcon Horus and Maat the goddess of Justice and more.

The Relocation of Abu Simbel Temples

The Abu Simbel temples have gone through a tremendous series of transformations throughout the years but the biggest transformation went through a full relocation in the mid-’50s after the construction of the Aswan high dam which led to the rise of the water levels in lake Nasser which put both Philae temple and the Abu Simbel temple in full utter destruction.

The Egyptian Government requested the help of the international foundation of UNESCO to rescue Abu Simbel from destruction. in 1960, the world united to organize the history’s largest and most challenging rescue operation starting with an international fund-raising for the rescue operation through a Swedish company called “Vattenbyggnadsbyrån” that designed a brilliant plan to rescue the temples. The entire rescue operation took four years from 1964 to 1968 and cost 300 million dollars in today’s financial value.

The method of Abu Simbel temple relocation involved peeling away then cut into many blocks that weigh 20 to 30 tons using power saws, then moving to the new current location that was assembled together using drilled holes and reinforcement bars were made into an artificial cliff resembling the original one on a platform of cement & steel to contain and hold everything together while surrounded by an artificial stone mountain.

Abu Simbel Sun Festival

One of the oldest festivals in human history has been happening in Egypt for more than 3500 years at the Abu Simbel temples where the sun smiles on the temple and rays of celestial lights entering the temple and illuminating the darkest corners. Abu Simbel Sun Festival celebrates the anniversary of Ramsess II ascension on the throne February 22 and his birthday on October 22, when the light enter the central chamber and illuminate the face of the seated statues of Ramsess II, Amun (The Creator God), and Ra (Sun God) except for Ptah (God of creation) who was connected with the ancient Egypt underworld and had to be kept in absolute darkness. The alignment of sacred structures with the rising or setting sun is still celebrated until our current day by travelers from all over the world.

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