Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae (World Heritage)

The Nubian sites are impressive temples from the time of Ramses II, the Ptolemies and the Roman emperors. These include two temples of Ramses II. (Ramses and Hathor temples) in Abu Simbel and the Isis sanctuary on the Nile island of Philae from the 4th century. In the 1960s, they were moved to a higher island to protect against sinking in Lake Nasser.

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae: Facts

Official title: The Nubian monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
Cultural monument: 60 m deeply carved into the rock, large temple with 33 m high temple facade and 20 m high statues with the “deified image” of Ramses II., Large pillar hall measuring 16.43 x 17.7 m; Large sanctuary of Isis of Philae with 93 m long western colonnade and the 45.5 m wide and 18 m high, flanked by two towers First Entrance Gate, the so-called “First Pylon”
Continent: Africa
Country: Egypt, Nubia
Location: Abu Simbel and Philae, south of Aswan
Appointment: 1979
Meaning: very impressive temples from the time of Ramses II, the Ptolemies and the Roman emperors

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae: History

1290-1224 BC Chr. under Ramses II. building of Abu Simbel
3rd / 4th Century BC Chr. Construction of the sanctuary of Isis on Philae
March 22, 1813 Discovery of Abu Simbel by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784-1817)
1817 Exposure of Abu Simbel
1902 Philae sanctuaries flooded by the first Aswan reservoir
1960-71 Construction of the Nasser reservoir
1964-68 Implementation of the Abu Simbel temples
1972-80 Realization of the monuments of Philae

The pearl of Egypt and a royal masterpiece

“Today a strange haunt of Venice takes place in the temple walls of Philae. One penetrates the sanctuary on small boats. The reflection of the Nile waves shimmers along the stone walls up to the ceiling, which shows a pair of wings in wonderful colors, the symbol of the sun. «These are the words travel writer Mechthild Lichnowsky used in 1913 to describe her impressions. At that time, the temples on the Nile island of Philae were under water every six months, so that visitors could row around with their boats inside the sanctuary. When work on the Sadd al Ali dam began a few decades ago, the cultural monuments of Philae threatened to disappear completely in the floods of the reservoir.

The sanctuary, dedicated to the goddess Isis and her young son Horus, was built in the late period of the Pharaonic Empire, under the Ptolemaic dynasty. According to aristmarketing, when Egypt came under the rule of Rome, the Roman emperors were so impressed by this temple that they had themselves depicted as pharaohs on the walls in regalia and habitus.

Behind the first pylon there is an inner courtyard, which is bordered on the right by colonnades and on the left by the birth house (Mammisi), which is dedicated to Isis. Reliefs show their son Horus, who has to hide in the delta swamps from the pursuits of his uncle Seth, the murderer of his father Osiris. The second pylon is inclined to the temple axis and is decorated with reliefs on which sacrifices for the gods Horus and Hathor can be seen. The Holy of Holies is reached through a series of vestibules. There is still the altar pedestal on which the divine barge for the cult image of Isis once stood.

To the east of the temple rises the most beautiful building of Philaes, the Trajan kiosk that exudes a floating lightness and was commissioned by the Roman emperor of the same name.

Hundreds of kilometers from Philae, on the banks of the Nasser Reservoir, Abu Simbel, is one of the greatest monuments from the time of the Pharaohs. For centuries, the colossal statues of Pharaoh Ramses II remained hidden under meter-thick sand drifts. Only the heads protruded a little from the desert sand when the bold temple building was discovered and excavated at the beginning of the 19th century. This building goes back to Ramses II, who with this temple expressed his divinity.

Four seated colossal statues of the Pharaoh adorn the front. Ramses is shown in full regal regalia with the double crown of Lower and Upper Egypt, the rearing Uraeus serpent on his forehead and the beard of the gods on his chin. The reliefs in the pillared hall resemble a history book about the heroic victories of the pharaoh: here the “divine” storms a Syrian fortress on a chariot, there he pierces a Libyan with a lance; Finally, even bloodthirsty scenes from the battle against the Hittites, which Ramses had put up at other temples during his reign. Although he shows the severed hands and heads of the vanquished on the reliefs and has the host of prisoners brought before them, this battle did not end in a triumphant victory. It was only by luck that the pharaoh and his army escaped a crushing defeat. Finally, one arrives at the Holy of Holies: Here Ramses is enthroned in the midst of the “divine trinity” Amun-Re, Ptah and Re-Harachte. Every year on February 21st and October 21st, the rays of the sun penetrating into the depths of the temple cast a magical light on the Pharaoh and the three deities.

Ramses had the small temple of Abu Simbel built for his beloved wife Nefertari. The sanctuary is dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of love. In the niches of the facade, which is structured by bridges, there are figures of Ramses and his wife. Like Philae, Abu Simbel had to give way to the modern’s belief in progress, but without being lost to posterity. Thanks to international aid and with the support of UNESCO, Abu Simbel was able to be wrested from the floods of the Aswan reservoir. The impressive complex was “moved” stone block by stone block to a plateau 65 meters higher in order to preserve a unique testimony to ancient Egyptian history for centuries to come.

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

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