Celebration of light

If you plan on visiting this extraordinary monument –which you should, please fly to it!! Although we all love a road trip, to truly enjoy this, air travel is recommended.

The view offered from the plane when it descends for landing is unforgettable.  The whole complex appears in front of your eyes and can only leave you breathless. Apart from that, by the time you arrive, the hordes coming by bus will be leaving, allowing you to enjoy the temples in perfect solitude…

I will never forget the feeling, my heart beating in anticipation, almost stumbling on the hot sand, under the blazing sun, in order to reach the site and have the first look at the enormous statues … there, standing still, gazing in awe…

The imposing entrance is ‘guarded’ by four colossal statues of Ramses himself, a sign of his own vanity, nevertheless that gave the future generations an immense treasure.

Many smaller sculptures, ‘no higher than the knees of the pharaoh’, statues of his family, gods and deities, all in perfect detail. Later, entering the main temple, all alone under the eyes of Ra-Horakhty, the falcon-headed ‘god of the rising sun’, passing the chambers, admiring the sculptures and the hieroglyphic depictions of history on its walls, travelling through time all the way to the sanctuary where the four sculptures of the gods remain for thousands of years…

Abu Simbel is a 12th century temple complex, built during the reign of pharaoh Ramses II. The temple complex is part of the ´Nubian monuments´, an outstanding archaeological area from Abu Simbel to the temple of Philae island, all named world heritage sites, protected by Unesco.

The main temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah and Amun-Ra, and the deified king Ramses II. The small temple, honors the mother goddess Hathor, personified by Ramses’ beloved wife, queen Nefertari.

The temples survived through ancient times, although at some point had no use, remained covered in sand over time, rediscovered by some explorers early 19th century and later were  threatened to submerge in the Nile, due to  the construction of the Aswan high dam, and the creation of lake Nasser.

With an extraordinary engineering feat, thousands of archaeologists and workers managed to carefully dismantle the temples in small pieces and reassemble them to higher ground. They even built artificial hills to house the structures, ensuring that those maintain the exact same orientation towards the sun as the ones created in ancient times. All that effort, in order to preserve what I like to call ´celebration of light´ -an astonishing event occurring  in the main temple during  a thousand years old astronomical ceremony. Every year, at dawn of the 22nd of both February and October, during the solar alignment, the rays of sun enter deep into the temple sanctuary, illuminating only the statues of the gods Ra-Horakhty, Amun-Ra and that of the deified king Ramses, leaving Ptah, the god of darkness and the underworld remain perpetually in the dark….