Situated 280km south of Aswan on the edge of Lake Nasser, the two temples of Abu Simbel are the most magnificent temples in the world. The large and so-called sun temple was built by the mighty Pharaoh Ramses II, the other for his Chief Wife Nefertari. Their relocation at the time of the flooding of the Nile Valley when the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s was a major engineering achievement supported and managed by UNESCO. The Lake Nasser cruise boats sail between Aswan and Abu Simbel.
The Great Temple of Abu Simbel
Built by Ramses II, it is distinguished by its main façade with four colossal statues of Rameses II sitting enthroned wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The temple was dedicated to the sun god Ra-Horakhty. Among the many interior wall reliefs, the most interesting is the Qadesh battle scene recording his victory over the Hittites. It was built on an exact strict east-west axis so that the morning sun actually reaches the innermost sanctuary at dawn, illuminating 3 of the 4 statues of Amon, Ramses II and Ra Horakhty twice a year. Ptah, being a god of the underworld, is not illuminated.
The Small Temple of Abu Simbel (Nefertari)
Located 50 metres from the great temple, it was built by Rameses II for his beautiful wife Nefertari to be worshipped with other gods. It is also called the temple of Hathor, the goddess of love and music. Its facade is adorned by six statues - four of Rameses II and two of his wife Nefertari. The walls of the temple are decorated with scenes depicting Ramses and Nefertari offering sacrifices to the gods.