Abu Simbel Temple Carved out of a mountainside in the 13th century BC, Abu Simbel Temple was dedicated to three of Egypt’s pre-eminent deities-Amun of Thebes, Ptah of Memphis and Ra-Harakhty of Heliopolis, but it is principally a monument to the might of the pharaoh. Located at the southernmost tip of ancient Egypt’s borders, the four colossal statues of Ramses that front the temple gaze towards enemy territory as a warning to any who might approach.
1-Lake Nasser was formed with the completion of the High Dam in 1971. The water stretches south of the dam for nearly 500 km (300 miles) into Sudan. With a surface area of 6,000 sq km (3,700 sq miles) the lake is the world’s largest reservoir
2-Visitors’ Centre Like Philae, Abu Simbel Temple was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. The Visitors’ Centre contains an exhibition telling the story of the move, with diagrams, photographs and models.
3-The Colossi Ramses II at Abu Simbel Temple had his temple adorned with four gigantic colossi fashioned in his likeness. Each of the complete seated figures (one lost its upper torso in an earthquake in 27 BC) is more than 20 m (65 ft) in height.
4-Statue of Ra-Harakhty Above the entrance to the temple is a statue of the falcon-headed sun god Ra-Harakhty (left). At the top of the temple are the remains of a frieze of baboons worshiping the rising sun.
5-Hypostyle Hall Reliefs The southern wall of the Hypostyle Hall depicts the Battle of Qadesh (c.1275 BC) (above), in which the pharaoh leads his army in a defeat of the Hittites on the River Orontes in what is now Syria
6-Ramses Pillars The Hypostyle Hall has twin rows of four pillars fronted by 10-m (33-ft) statues of Ramses in Osiride form carrying crook and flail
7-Inner Sanctuary A second pillared hall leads to a sanctuary at the rear of the temple, where there are four statues representing Ptah, Ramses II, Amun- Ra and Ra-Harakhty.
8-The Sun Ceremony The Sun Temple is aligned so that on 22 February and on 22 October every year (traditionally considered Ramses’ birthday and coronation date, respectively), the first rays of the rising sun illuminate the sanctuary cult statues of Amun-Ra, Ra-Harakhty and Ramses II, while Ptah stays in shadow
9-Temple of Hathor Beside the Sun Temple is a temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor, built by Ramses II to honour his wife Nefertari (below). The façade alternates colossi of the pharaoh and his queen. Inside is a hypostyle hall with Hathor-headed pillars
10-Sound and Light Show Set to music, this impressive show includes projections onto the temples showing how they once looked
Rescue by UNESCO In the 1960s, as the rising waters of Lake Nasser threatened to engulf Abu Simbel Temple, UNESCO engineers cut them from the mountain in sections and reassembled the pieces to front an artificial mountain 210 m (700 ft) behind and 65 m (213 ft) above their original position.
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