Abu Simbel's Temple of Ramses II
At the entrance’s gate, we were subjected to security screening once again. Once done, we followed our guide to the front of the Temple of Ramses II which faced the lake. In the process, excitement grew in each and every one of us as Akram pointed out along the way several parts of the man made mountain while providing us with great details of its construction.
The most interesting part about this site as explained to us by our guide was that the Temples of Abu Simbel originally consisted of temples cut into solid rock dating back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC). Unfortunately, when the Aswan High Dam was built in the early 1960’s, the rising water of Lake Nasser enormously damaged these unique Temples. With the help of UNESCO and several other countries, the temples were cut in many pieces and then reconstructed again on a site 200m back inland and 65m higher than the original location to escape the rising water level. This great rescue operation which took four years to do was completed in 1968.
Excitedly as I turned around the man made mountain’s corner of the temple, the magnificent view of its fašade was finally seen. In front of me stood four huge seated statues of King Ramses II, each one being 20m tall and representing the King seated on his throne wearing a double crown. Around his legs, three small figures of his wives, daughters and sons were carved into the rocks. The temple itself being 35m long and 30m high was quite impressive to stare at.
Being early in the morning, not too many tourists were present on the site which allowed Michel and me to wander freely around and to take breathtaking pictures of the entire complex. A group picture was also taken by a professional photographer of all of us sitting in front of the Temple of Ramses II.
No pictures were allowed to be taken inside the Temple. However, the local Egyptian guarding the entrance had a huge golden key in which he handed to me to hold and for him to take several pictures of myself standing in front of the huge temple doors. A little bit of the temple’s interior can be seen.
Wandering inside the temple, the many pieces put together during the reconstruction were very visible. It gave us a perspective of the entire work involved in moving the huge pieces of the solid rocks and putting them together.
Beautiful scenes of battles and offerings, of Pharaohs and gods were carved on the interior walls along with several Egyptian symbols. Huge shaped pillars decorated the hall which had some side rooms. Four statues were at the far end of the Temple.
After completing our little exploration of the chambers and passages, Michel and I left the temple and headed to the one right next to it, to the Temple of Nefertari.
Thankful for having visited the Temple of Ramses II in Abu Simbel!