first, and largest of the temples, is dedicated to the sun god Ra-Harakhte,
while the second, which is smaller, and a few meters to the north,
was dedicated by Ramses II to his beautiful wife, Nefertari, to be
worshipped together with other deities.
These two temples attracted world-wide attention when they were
threatened by inundation by the waters of the High Dam. In response
to an appeal by the Arab Republic of Egypt, UNESCO, in 1959,
initiated an international donations campaign to save the monuments
of Nubia, the relics of the oldest human civilization. The salvage
of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1963, and cost some 36 million
dollars. Once again the Abu Simbel temples were relocated on the
plateau to greet the sunrise every morning.
The Greater Abu
Simbel Temple (Ramses II)
This is one of the many relics erected by the Pharaoh Ramses II,
this is the grandest and most beautiful of temples. The facade is 33
meters high, and 38 meters broad, and guarded by for statues of
Ramses II, each of which is 20 meters high.
High on the facade, there is a carved row of baboons, smiling at the
sunrise. On the doorway of the temple, there is a beautiful
inscription of the king's name: Ser-Ma'at-Ra and between the legs of
the colossal statues on the facade, we can see smaller statues of
Ramses II's family: his mother "Mut-tuy", his wife "Nefertari" and
his sons and daughters.
There is also a number of dedications, important amongst which is
Ramses II's marriage to the daughter of the King of the Hittites.
Beyond their entrance, there is the Great Hall of Pillars, with
eight pillars bearing the deified Ramses II in the shape of Osiris.
The walls of this hall bear inscriptions recording the Battle of
Kadesh waged by RamseS II against the Hittites. Then we enter the
smaller hall of the temple - the hall of the nobles, containing four
square pillars. Then we come to the Holiest of Holies, where we Amun-Ra
find four statues of: Ra-Harakhte, Ptah, Amun-Ra and King Ramses II.
This temple is unique, since the sun shines directly on the Holiest
of Holies two days a year: February 21, the king's birthday, and
October 22, the date of his coronation.
The Smaller Abu Simbel Temple (Nefertari)
Located north of
the Greater Temple, this was carved in the rock by Ramses II and
dedicated to the goddess of Love and Beauty, Hathur, and also to his
favorite wife, Nefertari. The Facade is adorned by six statues, four
to Ramses II and two to his wife Nefertari. The
entrance leads to a hall containing six pillars bearing the head of
the goddess, Hathur.
The eastern wall bears inscriptions depicting Ramses II striking the
enemy before Ra-Harakhte and Amun-Ra. Other wall scenes show Ramses
II and Nefertari offering sacrifices to the gods.
Beyond this hall, there is another wall with similar scenes and
paintings.Finally, we reach the Holiest of Holies, where we find the
statue of the goddess Hathur.
This is, indeed, a most awesome sight to the visitor; for here he
finds the greatest artificial dome that bears the man-made mountain
behind the Temples of Abu Simbel.