"grotto" temples, although unusual in Egypt, are frequently
found in Nubia. The design of Abu Simbel temples is however
unique, in that there is no other example of twin sanctuaries,
in this case dedicated to Ramses himself and to his wife Nefertari,
which combine to form a single ensemble. Unlike all the other
Nubian temples, Abu Simbel was never transformed into a church.
GREATER TEMPLE (RAMSES II)
of the many relics erected by the Pharaoh Ramses II, this
is the grandest and most beautiful of temples. The fašade
is 33 metres high, and 38 metres broad, and guarded by for
statues of Ramses II, each of which is 20 metres high.
Temple remained untouched by later religions, until it was
recovered from the sand in 1817. High on the fašade, there
is a carved row of baboons smiling at the sunrise. On the
doorway of the temple, is a beautiful inscription of the king's
name: ser-Ma'at-Ra; and between the legs of the colossal statues
on the fašade, one can see smaller statues of Ramses II's
family: his mother "Mut-tuy", his wife "Nefertari" and his
sons and daughters.
are also a number of dedications, important amongst which
is Ramses II's marriage to the daughter of the King of the
Hittites. Beyond their entrance, is the Great Hall of Pillars,
with eight pillars bearing the deified Ramses II in the shape
walls of this hall bear inscriptions recording the Battle
of Kadesh waged by Ramses II against the Hittites. On entering
the Holiest of Holies, one finds four statues of : Ra-Harakhte,
Prah, Amun-Ra and King Ramses II.
uniqueness of this temple lies in the fact that the sun shines
directly on the holiest of Holies two days a year: February
21, the King's birthday, and October 22, the date of his coronation.
SMALLER TEMPLE (NEFERTARI)
north of the Greater Temple, it was carved in the rock by
Ramses II. This temple was dedicated to the goddess of Love
and Beauty, Hathur, and also to his favourite wife Nefertari.
Six statues, four to Ramses II and two to his wife Nefertari
adorn the fašade. The entrance then leads to a hall containing
six pillars bearing the head of the goddess, Hathur.
eastern wall bears inscriptions depicting Ramses II striking
the enemy before Ra-Harakhte and Amun-Ra. Other wall scenes
show Ramses II and Nefertari offering sacrifices to the gods.
this hall, is another wall with similar scenes and paintings.
Finally, we reach the Holiest of the Holies, where we find
the statue of the goddess Hathur. This is indeed a most awesome
sight for visitors. Here they find the greatest artificial
dome that bears the man-made mountain behind the Temples of