Abu Simbel temple complex is a hallmark of an Egyptian vacation for a reason! It’s absolutely stunning. Honestly, I feel like the temples are even more of a must-see than the pyramids. I’d add Abu Simbel to the wonders of the world any day!
Ramses II built Abu Simbel in Nubian lands to show his dominance over the area. Thousands of years later, his dominance and power remains unmistakable. The temple fell under the water after the construction of the High Dam, and was painstakingly relocated over three years.
Abu Simbel is around 3 hours drive from Aswan, near the border with Sudan. Most tours go in the early morning. On the way there, our bus broke down and we waited for 3 hours for a new one to come from Aswan. There’s a silver lining in every cloud though, because this meant that we had the temple complex almost to ourselves.
The temple of Ramses II is one of the few historical sites that has given me goosebumps. It’s impossible to avoid feeling tiny in the shadow of colossi. Within the temple, the paintings and carvings are incredibly well-preserved. I can’t believe how well these have stood the test of time when most things from the middle-ages are ruins. Perhaps the power of the Pharaoh does remain to protect the site.
The second temple is dedicated to Nefertari, the wife of Ramses II. Though smaller, it is equally impressive. Truly, this is a site you cannot miss!
If you visit Abu Simbel, be aware that the site can get incredibly hot and there is little shade. There are crowds early in the morning when all the tours go, so you’ll be better off if you’re able to arrive a bit later. We arrived around 11:30 and found it mostly empty. Entrance costs 160 EGP (or 80 EGP for students). The site isn’t all that close to anything.
I’m still in awe of Abu Simbel. By far, the most impressive site I’ve ever seen. Next stop: Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples Via Nile Cruise!