Abu Simbel Temples, Egypt
Built by the famous Pharaoh Ramesses II over 3,000 years ago, the Abu Simbel Temples are more famous than ever. The two temples of Ramses II and Nefertari were carved directly into the rock. Their interiors feature gargantuan columns lined with hieroglyphics.
Abu Simbel is a Temple complex. Originally cut into a solid rock cliff, in southern Egypt and located at the second cataract of the Nile River. There are two temples which comprise the site (The Great Temple and The Small Temple). They were created during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279 – c. 1213 BCE) either between 1264 – 1244 BCE or 1244-1224 BCE. The Great Temple was dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty, Ptah, and the deified Ramesses II. The Small Temple was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari, Ramesses’ favourite wife.
A Sacred Site
The location of the site was sacred to Hathor long before the temples were built. In both temples, Ramesses is recognized as a god among other gods. His choice of an already sacred locale would have strengthened this impression among the people.
The temples are also aligned with the east. Twice a year, on 21 February and 21 October, the sun shines directly into the sanctuary of The Great Temple. It illuminates the statues of Ramesses and Amun. The dates are thought to correspond to Ramesses’ birthday and coronation. The alignment of sacred structures with the rising or setting sun, or with the position of the sun at the solstices, was common throughout the ancient world.
The sanctuary of The Great Temple differs from these other sites in that the statue of the god Ptah, who stands among the others, is carefully positioned so that it is never illuminated at any time. As Ptah was associated with the Egyptian underworld, his image was kept in perpetual darkness.
The Abu Simbel Temples have been on my personal bucket list since I can remember, long before I ever heard of a bucket list. One day, I know I will have the humble experience of seeing these with my own eyes.
May Your Steps Fulfill Their Purpose.