Abu Simbel, general, but very necessary information
The small town of Abu Simbel is located 50 km from the border with Sudan, and 297 km south of Aswan. The Abu Simbel temple complex consists of two cave temples. One of them — the Big Temple — is dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II and the Egyptian gods Amon, Ra-Horakht and Ptah, and the second is the Small Temple — to his wife Nefertari and the goddess Hator. Along with the pyramids of Giza and the temples of Luxor, they are among the outstanding monuments of ancient Egyptian architecture.
The temple complex at Abu Simbel was carved into the rock during the reign of Ramses II (1295-1229 BC) to commemorate his victory over the Hittites.
As a result of the construction of the Aswan Dam, the monument was threatened by flooding. The transfer of the monuments of Abu Simbel in the 60s is considered one of the largest engineering and archaeological operations. The temples were sawn into 1,036 blocks, each weighing from 5 to 20 tons, numbered, transported and assembled to a new location — 65 meters above the sea and 200 meters further from the river. Also, 1112 blocks, carved from the rocks surrounding the temples, were transported here. A resinous composition was pumped into the blocks, drilling holes, to strengthen the structure of the stone. The temples were covered with a hollow reinforced concrete bell, and a hill was poured on top. This was done so professionally that it seems that the temples have always been here. The operation to move the temples lasted for 3 years (from 1964 to 1968) and cost 42 million dollars.
Twice a year — on his birthday on February 22 and on the day of the coronation of Ramses II on October 22 — the first rays of the rising sun, having passed a distance of 65 m from the entrance to the temple, illuminate the left shoulder of Amon-Ra, Ramses and Harmakis. After 20 minutes, the light disappears, never falling on the god of darkness — Ptah. These days in Abu Simbel there are always a lot of tourists, and residents of the city arrange colorful holidays with music and dancing.
The Abu Simbel temple complex consists of the famous Great Temple with four colossi in front of its facade and the Temple of Hathor, located nearby. The majestic structure was supposed to constantly remind the Nubians of the greatness and power of Egypt. The large temple is completely carved into the rock mass and impresses with its dimensions: 65 m deep and 38 m along the facade. The facade behind the statues of Ramses is 33 m high. Next to the Big Temple there is a temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor, who is given the features of the beloved wife of Ramses II Nefertari. In Egypt, not a single wife of the Pharaoh was ever depicted on the facade of the temple, only the wife of Ramses II was awarded this honor. On the facade of the temple of Hathor there are six colossal 10-meter statues depicting Ramses II, his wife Nefertari and their children bowed before them.
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