"The Philae Temple of the Goddess Isis" Philae by Innovator
Philae Travel Guide: 82 reviews and 342 photos
The temple is really a complex of temples, the main temple being dedicated to the Goddess Isis, built by Pharaoh Ptolemy XI. Also to be seen here is the Pavilion of Nectanebo I, dedicated to Hathor, and Trajan's Pavilion, rebuilt by the emperor Trajan and with reliefs showing him offering gifts to the Egyptian Gods. The complex contains all the elements of ancient Egyptian history, with Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture blending together.
The main temple of Isis is very impressive and well preserved, though the paint decoration has been removed by it's time spent underwater. The main pylon (the walls surrounding an entrance) is 18 metres high and 45 metres wide, covered with the usual reliefs of Ptolemy XI sacrificing prisoners to the Gods, and generally being an all round heroic and wise Pharaoh. Inside, the main courtyard sports side colonnades with the columns in the later papyrus style before a second pylon leads to a Hypostyle hall with 10 ornate pillars. There are many additions to the temple, which give a fascinating insight into the way temples "grew" with time. Philae is also the venue for a "Son et Lumiere" presentation. I didn't go to this one, but was told it was well worth seeing.
Philae Temple sits on an island in the artificial lake between the Old Dam and the new High Dam. This is another edifice rescued from the new water levels caused by the construction of the High Dam. Previously, before any dams were built, the temple stood on the sacred island of Philae, in the corner of a small bay on the East of the Nile. With the building of the Old Dam in 1898, the temple was submerged for most of the year, emerging only in August and September, when the gates of the dam were opened to allow the annual flood through. However, the building of the new dam meant that the temple would be under a constant depth of 4 metres of water, and the constant movement of the water would have eroded the foundations. Between 1972 and 1980, the temple was moved to the higher islet of Agilkia, where it can now be visited by boat all year round.
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