One of the most well-known sites in Egypt, Abu Simbel consists of two temples created in 13th century BC. Built by Ramses II, the temples remained unknown until their rediscovery in 1813. From Aswan, tourists can choose to fly to Abu Simbel, or drive 300km with a police convoy. We chose the more affordable option and had to be in line in the convoy by 4am so we could arrive at the site around seven.
Dedicated to the sun gods (among others), Abu Simbel is positioned so that twice a year the first rays of sun shine down the entire length of the temple and illuminate the back wall of the cave. Taking photos inside the temples is not allowed but the interior is quite beautiful as well.
Standing outside of the temples, the sheer size of them is overly impressive. However if the initial creation of Abu Simbel wasn’t already fascinating, then imagine the deconstruction and relocation of these temples that took place in the 1960s. When the Aswan High Dam was constructed, Abu Simbel would have been submerged under Lake Nassar if not moved to a higher location.
Though there are an incredible number of temples in Egypt (and I have only visited a few), Abu Simbel is one of my favorites. When memories of one temple begin to blur with another, Abu Simbel still stands out to me for its prominence and its multiple statues of Ramses.