Aswan Governorate is one of the Egyptian governorates located in Upper Egypt. This Governorate lies in the far south of the country in Upper Egypt; its capital is Aswan. This Governorate borders Luxor to the north, Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar (Red Sea) Governorate to the east, New Valley Governorate to the west and Sudan’s Northern states to the south.
History of Aswan
Aswan is one of the 27 governorates of Upper Egypt. This Governorate has a deep-rooted history and heritage as all the governorates exist in the Nile Valley. The history of Aswan extends long back to the very early civilisation in Egypt. We can get a lot about the history of that Governorate through the Ancient Egyptian monuments that still survive in Aswan and Abu Simbel. Furthermore, the history of the Governorate emerges in the many Greco-roman monuments in Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and the middle area.
The capital of this Governorate is the city of Aswan. It is the ancient city of Swenett, which was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt facing the south.
The ancient Egyptian used the place to serve different purposes. Among these purposes is the use of its quarries. These quarries were famous for their stone, and; especially for the granitic rock called Syenite. Therefore, Ancient Egyptians used the stone of these quarries to establish the colossal statues, obelisks and monolithic shrines. These monuments spread throughout Egypt, including the pyramids. For fortune, the traces of the quarry-men, who worked in these quarries 3,000 years ago, are still visible in the native rock. That quarries lie on both banks of the Nile. Also, a road of six and a half km in length connected the quarries of Syene to Philae.
The ancient Egyptian used the place as a garrison, as well. This military station was operating until recently.
Administrative divisions of Aswan Governorate
The Governorate has the following administrative:
- Abu Simbel.
- Kom Ombo.
- New Aswan.
- New Tushka.
- Also, Nasser City.
Attractions in Aswan Governorate
Temples of Abu Simbel
The Temples of Abu Simbel are 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 Nubia 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.
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site located on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is one of the “Nubian Monuments” sites included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, starting from the river’s flow from Abu Simbel to Philae (near Aswan).
The ancient Egyptians initially carved these twin temples out of the rock during the reign of King Ramses II in the 13th century BC. The temples present a permanent monument to him and Queen Nefertari to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. However, in 1960 the entire complex was moved to another place higher than the reservoir of the Aswan High Dam: on an artificial hill made of a dome structure.
It was necessary to move the temples to avoid submerging during the construction of Lake Nasser and the vast artificial water reservoir formed after the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile. Abu Simbel is still one of the best tourist attractions in Egypt.
Temple of Kalabsha
The Temple of Kalabsha is a Greco-roman one. This temple initially stood at Bab al-Kalabsha, ancient Egyptian Talmis. It lies 56 km south of the city of Aswan, Aswan governorate. The Ancient Egyptians dedicated it to Isis, Osiris and Horus-Mandulis (the Roman aspect of the Nubian solar god, Merul). Undoubtedly, Kalabsha is the finest example of a freestanding temple in Nubia after the Temples of Abu Simbel. They call it “The Temple of Mandulis”, as well.
Temples of Philae
The Temples of Philae lie on one of the islands in the River Nile. The ancient Egyptian name of Philae was Pilak, from which the Greek and Latin Philae originated. Its original place was on Philae Island in Aswan. The local people called it El-Qasr, the “Castle during the Islamic era.” Also, they named it Geziret Anas el-Wogud, after the hero of one of the tales in the “Arabian Nights,” who traced his beloved to this island. According to this tale, she had been locked up on Philae by her father.
Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Kom Ombo is a double temple in the town of Kom Ombo in Aswan Governorate, Upper Egypt. The building is unique because its design consists of two adjoined sections. In other words, there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods.
Temple of Horus at Edfu
The Temple of Horus in Edfu is one of Egypt’s most impressive and well-preserved temples. This temple exists on the west bank of the Nile in Edfu, Aswan Governorate. It is the largest temple dedicated to Horus and Hathor of Dendera.
The Temple of Edfu, or the Temple of Horus, is the second temple of ancient Egypt, after the Temple of Karnak. It stands in the city of Edfu in Upper Egypt on the west bank of the Nile. During the Hellenistic period, it had in Greek vernacular the name (Ἀπόλλωνος πόλις) and in Latin (Apollonopolis Magna), representing the temple. One of the last attempts of the Ptolemies to build temples in the style of their ancestors was grandeur. It took about 180 years to build the Temple of Horus.
The ancients dedicated the temple to the chief deity Horus, identified as Apollo, under the Greek interpretation. It is one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. They built it during the rule of the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC. NS. The inscriptions on its walls provide important information about language, mythology and religion during the Hellenistic period in Egypt. In particular, the inscribed temple building texts provide details of its construction and preserve information about the mythical interpretation of it and all other temples such as the Creation Island. Important scenes and inscriptions from the sacred drama also narrate the ancient conflict between Horus and Seth. The German Edfu project helped interpret valuable scenes and descriptions. The engraved symbols and letters remind the rituals followed in the past that the temple exists where a great battle took place between Horus and Set.
Fatimid Cemetery in Aswan
The Fatimid cemeteries in southern Egypt are divided into tribal and marine cemeteries. The domes found in Fatimid tombs have eight sides of a dome shape that faces the outside from what is known as the centuries. The crowns in the Fatimid cemetery date back to the fourth century AH.
Nubia Museum in Aswan
The Nubia Museum in Aswan in Egypt is a museum established by UNESCO in Egypt to display the antiquities of the ancient Nubian civilisation as well as includes information on the history of Nubia from prehistoric times to the present, with a review of the essential Nubian customs and traditions, and the ancient Nubian language.
Aswan Museum (Elephantine Island Museum)
Work began on establishing the Nile Museum in June of 2004. The government opened the museum to visitors on January 10, 2016, in the presence of the Prime Minister and Minister of Irrigation and representatives of 11 African countries from the Nile Basin countries. The cost of establishing the Nile Museum amounted to 82 million pounds. The Nile museum is located on area 146 thousand square meters, of which one thousand square meters is allocated from Aswan Governorate, and the rest is from the property of the Ministry of Irrigation.
This museum consists of 3 floors and includes hundreds of pictures and exhibits that tell the history of the Nile and the Egyptian projects built on it. The museum has 61 essential paintings that illustrate the most prominent aspects of the Nile River journey in Egypt. Inside the museum, there is also a large part dedicated to displaying the High Dam history, documenting its construction and the memorial of the martyrs who fell during the construction of the High Dam.
The museum includes a presentation of the most critical national projects of the Ministry of Irrigation. It contributed to, starting with the charitable arches during the days of Muhammad Ali, passing through the Peace Canal and the Toshka project, and ending with the 4 million hectares project launched by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. It also includes the most important historical documents, including the Document of Agreement 59 between Egypt and Sudan and the Document for the Protection of the Nile River, signed by the President and the Prime Minister.
Elephantine Island is one of Egypt’s Nile islands located in the city of Aswan. It has an area of about 1500 meters in length and 500 meters in width. Most of its inhabitants are Nubians. It has the Mövenpick Hotel, agricultural regions, mostly palms, the Aswan Museum, and the remains of stone temples from different eras.
Philae Island is an island in the middle of the Nile River and is one of the strongest forts along the southern borders of Egypt, separating the Nile into two opposite channels in Aswan.
Egypt in the south. The ancient Egyptians dedicated the complex to worship the goddess Isis, but the island contained Hathor, Amenhotep, and other temples. The name Philae or Philae goes back to the Greek language, which means (beloved) or (grains), and the Arabic word for it is Anas al-Wujud, concerning the legend of Anas found in the stories of the Thousand and One Nights. As for the ancient Egyptian and Coptic name is Bilak or Bilakh, which means the limit or the end because it was the last frontier.
The Botanical Island is one of the most important tourist attractions in Aswan, and it is one of the oldest gardens in the world. The Aswan Botanical Garden spreads on an entire island. It contains many rare trees and plants. The Island of Plants witnessed the visit of many prominent historical figures, perhaps the most important of them: Nehru, Prime Minister of India, Joseph Tito, President of Yugoslavia, in addition to Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Great Britain.
Salouga and Ghazal Reserve
Salouga and Ghazal Reserve is one of the nature reserves in southern Egypt. It is the smallest, as it does not exceed an area of half a kilometre, which is a group of islands in the Nile River.
Work on its construction began in the city of Aswan in southern Egypt between 1899 and 1906. The foundation stone was laid by the Khedive Abbas Helmy II, and he inaugurated it during his reign. The Aswan Reservoir is 946 km away from the Delta Barrage, Qanatir al-Khairia.
The old Aswan Dam was the first dam in Egypt and the largest dam built globally. Moreover, engineers elevated it in 1912. Next, they added a second ramp in 1926 to impound the water during the flood of the Nile. The reservoir is 2,141 meters long, 9 meters wide and has 180 gates. Engineers built it built from the granite stone available in the area. They exploited the water rushing from it to make two power stations, the first Aswan Generating Plant and the second Aswan Power Plant. The construction of a road links the eastern and western banks of the Nile.
Aswan High Dam
The Aswan High Dam or the High Dam is a water dam on the Nile River in southern Egypt. Egyptians established it during the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the Soviets contributed to its construction. The barrier has helped a lot in controlling the flow of water and mitigating the effects of the Nile flood and used to generate electricity in Egypt. The length of the dam is 3600 meters, the width of the base is 980 meters, the width of the summit is 40 meters, and the height is 111 meters. The size of the dam’s body is 43 million cubic meters of cement, iron and other materials. A water flow of up to 11,000 cubic meters of water can pass through the dam per second.
The dam’s construction began in 1960. The project’s estimated total cost reached one billion dollars, a third of which was written off by the Soviet Union. 400 Soviet experts worked in the dam’s construction and completed the building in 1968. Engineers installed The last 12 electric generators in 1970. Subsequently, President Anwar El Saddat officially opened in 1971.
However, the High Dam reduced the fertility of the Nile River. It does not replace the estuaries in Damietta and Ras El Bar with silt, which threatens to sink the delta after more than a hundred years ago. The threat also comes due to other factors such as global warming and melting ice in the North and South Poles. Noteworthy that the first person who referred to the construction of this dam was the Arab Muslim scholar Al-Hassan bin Al-Hassan bin Al-Haytham (born in 965 AD and died in 1029 AD). However, he did not have the opportunity to implement his idea because of the lack of machinery needed to build it in that period.
Lake Nasser, or the High Dam Lake, is the largest artificial lake globally, located in southern Egypt, south of Aswan, and northern Sudan. The water collected behind the High Dam formed this lake after the construction (from 1958 to 1970). The most significant part that lies within the borders of Egypt carries the name “Lake Nasser” after the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This part represents 83% of the total area of the lake. In contrast, the remaining amount located within the boundaries of Sudan is called Lake Nuba.