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Abu Simbel - Temples

Rock-hewn "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.


One 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.

This 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.

There 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 of Osiris.



The 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.

The 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.


Located 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.

The 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.

Beyond 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 Abu Simbel.



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