Last Updated: 18th Jun 2013
by – Matt Vernick, Tour Manager, Europe
Abu Simbel is one of the most famous temples from ancient Egypt and in a land filled with awesome sights like the Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the Temples of Luxor and Karnak as well as the Sahara and the Nile, Abu Simbel stands out for many as the highlight of their trip to Egypt.
The structures are over 3000 years old and were built by the uber-famous Ramses II as a monument to both himself, his wife Nefertiti and the Battle of Kadesh. The age and motive behind it’s construction though is just the beginning of the amazing history of this famous sight.
It was buried by sand for well over 2000 years before it was rediscovered and escavated in in the 1800’s. The temples would have been lost under the rising waters of the Nile (due to the construction of the Aswan Dam) had it not been for a huge effort to relocate the temples. Funded entirely from international donations, the entire Abu Simbel complex was cut into pieces and moved higher up the valley to it’s current potion on the edge of Lake Nassar. he size of these monuments as well as the skill and speed at which they were moved was simply amazing.
Unforgettable from the outside, it’s also awesome to walk around inside the temples, especially after your local guide has filled you in on the history and significance of what you’re looking at.
Abu Simbel is right on the edge of Lake Nassar, close to the Aswan Dam, which was (and still is) pretty controversial for a whole host of reasons but it’s still pretty cool to see this massive lake in the middle of the desert. It gives you a whole new perspective on the Nile as well.
A little out of the way, the closest big city is Aswan and a visit to Abu Simbel is offered as a optional excursion on all Contiki Tours that travel to Egypt.