Abu Simbel Temples
Abu Simbel consists of two temples carved directly into the rock. It is located at the southern part of Egypt on the western bank of Nasser Lake, about 230 km southwest of Aswan. The temples are part of the Open Air Museum of Nubia and Aswan, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Between 1964 and 1968 all the temples had to be relocated due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
History of Abu Simbel Temples
The temples were built by Pharaoh Ramses II, son of Seti I. The construction of the temple began approximately in 1284 B.C. and lasted for almost 20 years. The purpose of the temple was to impress the neighbors at the south and strengthen the influence of Egyptian religion in the region.
The temple was built by Ramses II to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh (1274 B.C.). It is dedicated to the worship of Ramses himself and the cult of the great deities of ancient Egypt, Amun Ra and Ptah.
Ramesses II fought the enemies of both north and south. But his most important battle was to Kadesh against the Hittites in Canaan. With time, the temple has been forgotten and gradually became covered with sand, until in 1813. It was discovered by Italian man Giovanni Belzoni.
The temple is 33 m high and 38 m wide, with four seated statues guarding access, each measuring about 20 m high and are carved directly in the rock. The statues represent Ramesses II, seated on a throne with the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Between 1964. and 1968., and due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the temple had to be relocated to higher ground in the same hillside where it had been originally carved. A team of international experts, with the support of UNESCO, performed a work that consisted of cutting the temple in huge blocks, which were then assembled in its new location.
The temple was built with such an orientation that during the days October 21. and February 21. (61 days before and 61 days after the Winter Solstice) sunlight to penetrates to the sanctuary, located at the bottom of the temple, and illuminates the faces of Amon Ra, and Ramesses, leaving only the face of the god Ptah in shadow, as he was considered the god of darkness.
The smaller temple of Abu Simbel is located north of the main temple and is dedicated to the goddess Hathor goddess of love and beauty, as well as Nefertari, the favorite wife of Ramses II. The facade of this temple is decorated with six statues. four of them representing the pharaoh Ramses II and two of them representing his wife Nefertari. Inside there is a hypostyle hall with six columns whose capitals are decorated with the head of the goddess Hathor.
The East Room contains some scenes that show Rameses and his wife offering sacrifices to the gods. After this room is another room showing similar scenes. At the back of the temple there is the shrine containing a statue of the goddess Hathor.