Temples of Abu Simbel

Temples of Abu Simbel

The Temples of Abu Simbel  – the most famous rock-cut temples in Egypt. These temples exist near the modern village of Abu Simbel, at the Second Nile Cataract. In other words, it lies at the border between Lower and Upper Nubia. There are two of them: The Great Temple belongs to Ramses II, while he dedicated the Small Temple to his wife, Queen Amun-her-Khepeshef.


The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples at the Nubian village of Abu Simbel, Aswan governorate, Egypt. In other words, these temples stand on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km southwest of Aswan.

History of the Temples of Abu Simbel

The Ancient Egyptians carved out the twin temples of Abu Simbel out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC. In other words, they built it during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. During his reign, Ramses II built several grand temples, in Nubia. Politically, Ramses II did this to impress upon Nubian Egypt’s might. Thus, he can secure the source of gold and many other precious trade goods.

The construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1264 BC and lasted for about 20 years, until 1244 BC. During ancient Egypt, they named it “Temple of Ramses, beloved by Amun.”

Abu Simbel temples after the 5th century AD

After the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River, the relocation of the temples was quite necessary. Otherwise, the rising waters of Lake Nasser would submerge them. So, they moved these twin temples before the creation of Lake Nasser _ the massive artificial water reservoir formed behind that Dam.

Rescue of the Temples

In 1959, an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia began. Indeed, the southernmost relics of this ancient human civilization were under threat from the rising waters behind the Aswan High Dam.

The rescue of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964 by a multinational team of archaeologists, engineers and experienced heavy equipment operators working together under the UNESCO flag; at the time it cost about USD 40 million. Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, on average 20 tons), dismantled, raised and reassembled in a new location at an altitude of 65 meters and 200 meters from the river, in one of the biggest problems of archaeological engineering in history. Some structures were even saved from under the waters of Lake Nasser.

The complex was completely relocated in 1968 under the supervision of the Polish archaeologist Kazimierz Michalovski to an artificial hill made of a domed structure, high above the Aswan Dam reservoir.

The collapsed colossus of the Great Temple supposedly fell during an earthquake shortly after its construction. Therefore, when moving the temple, the engineers decided to leave it as it is. Also, its face is missing.

1 thought on “Temples of Abu Simbel

  1. Welcome to the world of the most famous rock-cut temples one belonging to Ramses II and the smaller one belonging to his Queen Amun-her-Kepeshef. This temple took 20 long years to be built. Also, these temples were moved to a safe location before it was drowned by the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. The safe relocation of these twin temples was funded by UNESCO. The whole procedure is another remarkable engineering feat to be accomplished and is now well protected and located far away from the waters. The dedication of all these engineers and the archaeologists is commendable. Do come here and visit the site. You will be in awe of them!

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