"Aswan - the ancient city of Swenet" Aswan by al2401

Aswan Travel Guide: 638 reviews and 2,143 photos


Aswan was known in ancient times as Swenet and was the frontier town - much as it contines to be. The name is said to be derived from an Egyptian goddess of the same name and also the Egyptian symbol for trade.

All facets of ancient Egyptian life concerned the origin of life - the waters of the Nile beginning far to the south. Because of this, Egypt was thought to begin at Swenet, the first town encountered on entering Egypt from the south. It was built on the East bank of the Nile just below the first cataract - the last point on the river navigable from the sea.

Many of the obelisks, enormous statues and shrines (including the pyramids) were made from granite rock quarried in the area - from both sides of the Nile - and evidence of the workmen can still be seen.

Swenet was also important as a military station.


Of all the cities in Egypt, Aswan is my favourite. I love the brightness and there is a lot of colour - not as busy nor as dusty as Cairo. I was lucky enough to stay at the Basma Hotel which is on high ground and has wonderful views of the city - especially watching the feluccas travel home at the end of the day.

Abu Simbel is a must see - travel from Aswan by bus (several hours each way) or plane (20min each way with Egypt Air). Also the temple of Philae.

Not so well known is the Nubian Museum and a trip to the high dam - both definitely worth a visit. while at the dam see the 'Lotus Flower' a gift from Russia who partnered with Egypt in the construction of the dam. A felucca trip on the Nile is a great way to spend a couple of hours, as is a visit to a Nubian village.

Don't forget high tea at the Cataract Hotel - made famous by Agatha Christie in 'Death on the Nile'.

  • Last visit to Aswan: Nov 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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