"Abu Simbel" Temple of Abu Simbel by Ramonq
Temple of Abu Simbel Travel Guide: 266 reviews and 918 photos
click: music:Walk Like an Egyptian
Abu Simbel, in the deep south of Egypt, next to the Sudanese border is one of the most spectacular ancient monument around. No one will leave this place unamazed. I stood in front of the monument in awe for hours just imagining what these structures were like when they were basking under the harsh African sun in their full glory. What we see now are faded ruins that are mere shadows of their former selves. My imagination went wild as to how these looked like before and the how the characters involved around these structures appeared in full regalia whilst performing ancient Egyptian rituals. Can you imagine the music; the bright vivid colours of the monument; and the full emotion of the pomp and circumstance? This must have been a spell-binding sight around 3000 years ago!
It's amazing why the ancient Egyptian chose this site to construct these monuments. Hot, dry, and far away from Thebes (Luxor), the main city of ancient Egypt, however, there must be a valid reason for Pharoah Ramses II to commission such a massive undertaking in this part of Upper Egypt. The vain Ramses II loved to glorify himself and he had dozens of large stone monuments constructed in his own image around Luxor and the surrounding areas. Come to think of it, he was like the Saddam Hussein of ancient Egypt. The area were these monuments are located, was, and still is, populated by the Nubians, a proud darker skinned race found in the Sudan and southern Egypt. Apparently, the Nubians were problematic for the ancient Egyptians and the pharoahs though of ways to subjugate them.
Abu Simbel was located in southern gateway of Upper Egypt (Nile's upstream). The Nubians normally travel to Egypt via the Nile River and they have to enter the Kingdom through this area where Abu Simbel is located. The banks along the riverside in this area is rocky and the ravines are made of hard granite, an ideal rock for carving everlasting monuments. The Abu Simbel faces where the sun sets (west) and the ancient Egyptians must have chosen the site because they were obsessed with the sun and astrology.
Many historians reckon that the site was chosen because this was the southern gateway of the ancient Egyptian Kingdom for the thousands of Nubians who populated the area. Building a gargantuan monument here was going to be a stark reminder to the restless Nubians that the Pharoah Ramses II was the ruler of all Egypt (Upper and Lower Egypt). Even though the pharoahs were based in Thebes, the temples acted as "decoys" to fool the Nubians into submission to the pharoah. I can see why the Nubians were awestruck by these monuments, mainly because of their sheer size. Egyptologists believe that the monuments were even made more magnificent by their dazzlingly coloured exteriors. Outside, the walls were white and the hieroglyphs were painted in splashes of vivid colours. Some ornamental carvings on the wall were gilded in gold. Can you imagine what this place was like when Abu Simbel was in full colour under the midday sun?
During sunsets, Abu Simbel also had a significant spiritual symbolism. Apparently, on every solstice only, the sun sets at an opportune time when a shaft of sunray pierce through the main gate and through the inner sanctum of the temple which housed sacred statues of the ancient Egyptian gods. To design a phenomena that's something accurately clever like this, one must have advanced knowledge of the astronomy and the solar system, which the ancient Egyptians perfected and incorporated into their spiritual life. Abu Simbel was not just a royal monument but a powerful spiritual symbol. The interiors of Abu Simbel are overflowing with ancient Egyptian art and religious symbolisms.
The original location of Abu Simbel was directly below this present location. Modern day Egypt's energy demands forced their government to construct the mighty Aswan Dam which would flood the area where Abu Simbel was located. With the efforts of the Egyptian government and the United Nations (UNESCO) in the 1960's, Abu Simbel was daintily cut piece by piece and reassembled thoughtfully above the flood level, including the angle where it faces the sunset. It was an enormous and expensive task and the engineers and archaelogists did a mighty fine job of preserving this fantastic heritage for years to come.
- Pros:The fantastic monuments of course
- Cons:Police Convoy to get there
- In a nutshell:As Grand as they'd ever be
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