Standing in front of the Temples of Abu Simbel is a mesmerizing experience on its own. However, thinking that these colossal monuments have been moved to their current position from a completely different location goes beyond any human imagination!
And the story goes like this…
The Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of his Queen Nefertari were initially sitting on the shore of river Nile on the South of Egypt. Thousands of years later, the construction of Aswan Dam, a project that would significantly benefit the country’s agriculture and at the same time provide sufficient electricity to power the half of Egypt, brought up an essential danger…
Lake Nasser, the artificial water reservoir that was attached to Aswan Dam, would flood to such level that a lot of ancient temples, among which Abu Simbel itself, would be submerged!
The only way to save the two Temples was to move them!!! However, moving the entire site in one piece was absolutely impossible. As crazy as it might have seemed back then (and still today), the only way to move Abu Simbel was to cut it into smaller pieces!
It took 500 workers and 7 months to clean up the mountain above the temples, an additional 9 months to dismantle the temples by slicing them by hand into 1000 blocks and another 19 months to reassemble Abu Simbel onto its new position!
Among the many challenges the project team faced, was the creation of an enormous dome over the new site, which would eventually bear the weight of the entire newly built mountain, protecting the temples below and making them look as if they had never been moved!
The ultimate, yet toughest, challenge for the engineers was to preserve a unique phenomenon; a solar alignment that would allow sun rays on two specific days per calendar year (February 22 and October 22) to enter the central chamber of the temple and illuminate the seated statues of Ramses II, Ra and Amun, leaving the statue of Ptah (the god of underworld) in perfect darkness.
In the end the mission was proved successful across all aspects and visitors of Abu Simbel today can hardly tell that the site was ever dismantled and reassembled from scratch!
For going to Abu Simbel, you will need to book a group tour from Aswan (departing at around 4 a.m. in the morning). I paid 10 USD for a transportation-only service. Entrance fees and private guide are to be paid separately while on-site.
Entrance Ticket for Abu Simbel – 200 EGP
Abu Simbel Photo / Video Pass – 300 EGP
All Given Prices as of March 2019
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