Abu Simbel is located 280 kilometers south of Aswan and 40 km north of the Sudanese border.
The tiny town is calm and relaxed. Few tourists stay longer than necessary to see the famous colossal temples, but that may soon change.
Those who want to relax by the lake, view the temples without the throng, explore a non-touristy Egyptian village without a police escort, or listen to Nubian music may choose to stay a few days.
Abu Simbel Attractions
The two Abu Simbel temples are accessible by road or by cruise ship from one of the jetties going right into the gated temple area.
1- Ramses II’s Temple
Ramses II‘s enormous temple on the west bank of the Nile was dedicated to the deified pharaoh as well as Ra-Horakhty, Amun, and Ptah.
The four massive pharaoh sculptures guarding the temple from the south are clearly meant to warn of the pharaoh’s might.
It was not until 1813 that the Swiss adventurer Jean Louis Burckhardt found it by accident.
Merely one of the heads was visible above the sand, the next was broken off, and the last two were only the crowns. Giovanni Belzoni removed enough sand in 1817 to access the shrine.
A few stairs lead up to the terrace in front of the colossal rock-cut façade, which is 30m high and 35m wide.
Three of the four famed gigantic Ramses II sculptures guard the entryway, their upper bodies still lying on the ground.
The 20m-high sculptures are flanked by smaller statues of the pharaoh’s mother Queen Tuya, wife Nefertari, and favoured children. Ra-Horakhty, the falcon-headed sun deity, stands between the center throned colossi.
Unfortunately, the sun god has lost part of his leg and foot due to the ravages of time.
Large hall with vultures as guardian symbols signifying goddess Nekhbet and eight columns each fronted with an Osiride statue of Ramses II.
Wall reliefs show the pharaoh trampled his adversaries and slaughtered them in front of the gods.
On the north wall is a portrayal of Ramses inspiring his dejected troops to victory against the Hittites in the legendary Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC).
Famous depiction depicting Ramses in his chariot throwing arrows at fleeing opponents dominates the scene. The Egyptian camp is visible, as is the fortified Hittite town, bordered by the Orontes River.
The four-columned entrance leads to the holy sanctuary, where Ramses and the Great Temple’s triad of gods sit on their thrones.
This alignment allows the sun’s first rays to cross the Nile on 22 February and 22 October every year, light the somewhat disfigured images of Ra-Horakhty, Ramses II, and Amun, and pass up the hypostyle hall, vestibule, and into the sanctuary. Ptah (left) is never lit. (This occurred before the temples were relocated.)
2- Hathor Temple
The Temple of Hathor stands next to the Great Temple and has a rock-cut façade with six 10m-high standing sculptures of Ramses and Nefertari with some of their numerous offspring.
Nefertari wears the goddess Hathor’s attire and is uncommonly represented as equal height to her husband (instead of coming only up to his knees as most consorts were depicted).
The hypostyle hall’s six pillars are capped with Hathor’s bovine capitals. On the walls, the queen is portrayed adoring her spouse in front of the gods.
The doorway and adjacent rooms lead to the sanctuary, where a worn figure of Hathor as a cow emerges from the rock.
In the winter (October to May), the programme starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. (May to September). Visitors may use the headphones to hear the narration in many languages. The laser display projected onto the temples is magnificent and well worth the trek. Our Aswan Day Tours
Sleep & Eat
Few people stay at Abu Simbel, although a few hotels enable those seeking solitude to do so.
Abu Simbel The fading Abu Simbel Village contains modest domed apartments surrounding a concrete courtyard.
Eskaleh Part Nubian cultural center, part tiny hotel in a typical Nubian mud-brick home, Eskaleh is the location to stay in town and a destination in itself.
A guide on the Eugénie for years, Fikry Kachif, a Nubian singer who lived in Abu Simbel before the dam, became weary of travelling and chose to open his business alongside the lake.
Rooms are simple yet comfortable, with fans, air conditioning, and private bathrooms. Nubian ladies make lovely meals from Fikry’s garden.
The Nile’s tourism path is unusually silent at night. Fikry sometimes joins in with his pals or the host’s Nubian music and dancing.
Book a Tour in Aswan to explore The Secrets of Abu Simbel