Abu Simbel is a village in the Egyptian part of Nubia, about 240 kilometers southwest of Aswan and near the border with Sudan. As of 2012, it has about 2600 inhabitants. It is best known as the site of the Abu Simbel temples

The Temples of Abu Simbel are a huge attraction in Egypt, bringing many tourists into the country each year. Built by King Ramses II, the temples of Abu Simbel are touted to be the most impressive ones in the country, the gargantuan rock-cut temple of King Ramses II, the Great Builder. Possibly the most awe-inspiring temple of all ancient Egypt, with its gargantuan rock-cut façade, Abu Simbel was created to revere the mighty Pharaonic ruler King Ramses II. Guarding the entrance to the temple, the four famous colossal statues of Ramses II sit majestically, staring out across the desert, seemingly since time began.

The extraordinary beauty and grandeur of the Sun temples is simply spellbinding. The temple remained hidden from the world until 1812 when the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt found it. In 1964, the temple was conserved to protect it from the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam. The entire site was dismantled and reassembled at a place 65m higher and 200m behind the river.

Ramses built the temple at Abu Simbel so that the sanctum sanctorum or the inner chamber would light up at just two times of the year, which are on February 22, the anniversary of his ascension to the throne and on October 22nd, which is his birthday. The festival is based on a solar phenomenon, and the Sun God was very important to Egyptians. Careful planning was required to ensure everything was aligned just right for the sun to shine where it was wanted.

Few tourists linger in the laid-back, quiet town of Abu Simbel, staying no more than the few hours needed to visit the colossal temples for which it is famous. But anyone interested in Lake Nasser, in seeing the temples without the crowds, in wandering around a small none-touristy Nubian town, or in listening to Nubian music might choose to hang around for a day or two

Abu Simbel 1

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