10 Interesting Facts about Abu Simbel

Those who love to travel around the world might better read these facts about Abu Simbel below since it could be your first recommended destination for your next holiday. Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel in Nubia, southern Egypt. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments”, which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC. Furthermore, to get to know more about these twin temples, here are some other facts about Abu Simbel you might be interested in.

Facts about Abu Simbel 1: Relocation

The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River.

Facts about Abu Simbel 2: Construction

Construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1264 BC and lasted for about 20 years, until 1244 BC. Known as the “Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun”, it was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the long reign of Ramesses II. Their purpose was to impress Egypt’s southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the region.

Facts about Abu Simbel - Abu Simbel temple
Facts about Abu Simbel – Abu Simbel temple

Facts about Abu Simbel 3: Forgotten Temple

With the passage of time, the temples fell into disuse and eventually became covered by sand. Already in the 6th century BC, the sand covered the statues of the main temple up to their knees. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when Swiss orientalist Jean-Louis Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple.

Facts about Abu Simbel 4: Rediscovery

Tour guides at the site relate the legend that “Abu Simbel” was a young local boy who guided these early re-discoverers to the site of the buried temple which he had seen from time to time in the shifting sands. Eventually, they named the complex after him.

Facts about Abu Simbel - Collapsed Colossus
Facts about Abu Simbel – Collapsed Colossus

Facts about Abu Simbel 5: Relocation

In 1959 an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia began: the southernmost relics of this ancient human civilization were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile that were about to result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam. One scheme to save the temples was based on an idea by William MacQuitty to build a clear fresh water dam around the temples, with the water inside kept at the same height as the Nile.

Facts about Abu Simbel 6: The Twin Temples

The complex consists of two temples. The larger one is dedicated to Ra-Harakhtv, Ptah and Amun, Egypt’s three state deities of the time, and features four large statues of Ramesses II in the facade. The smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified by Nefertari, Ramesses’s most beloved of his many wives. The temple is now open to the public.

Facts about Abu Simbel - Ramesses II
Facts about Abu Simbel – Ramesses II

Facts about Abu Simbel 7: The Great Temple

The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, which took about twenty years to build, was completed around year 24 of the reign of Ramesses the Great. It was dedicated to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Rameses himself.It is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Rameses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

Facts about Abu Simbel 8: The Small Temple

The temple of Hathor and Nefertari, also known as the Small Temple, was built about one hundred meters northeast of the temple of pharaoh Ramesses II and was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II’s chief consort, Nefertari. This was in fact the second time in ancient Egyptian history that a temple was dedicated to a queen.

Facts about Abu Simbel - Reconstruction
Facts about Abu Simbel – Reconstruction

Facts about Abu Simbel 9: Lake Nasser

A Lake Nasser cruise has a side stop to visit the temples, but this lake posed a threat to the attraction at one point. The lake waters rose because of the High Dam construction, and this risked placing the temples in close contact with the water.

Facts about Abu Simbel 10: Nefertari Hotel Abu Simbel

The Nefertari Hotel Abu Simbel is conveniently located very close to the temple site, and is considered the closest one available. Visitors who want to explore the temple structures do not even require a vehicle, because the hotel is within walking distance for almost everyone.

Facts about Abu Simbel - Relocation
Facts about Abu Simbel – Relocation

Hope you would find those Abu Simbel facts really interesting, useful and helpful for your additional reading.

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