The Sound and Light show at Abu Simbel will take you on a time-traveling journey to the time of the pharaohs. Enchanting you with melodious music, and bringing the ancient world to life around you, the show includes projections onto the temples showing how they looked once upon a time. The program is presented in a number of languages with the provision of earpieces. It is an experience not to be missed and will make your visit to Abu Simbel the memory of a lifetime.
Aside from the pyramids of Giza, the magnificent temple at Abu Simbel is perhaps the most recognized symbol of ancient Egypt for modern visitors. It leaves you in a maze of questions like: How did the ancient Egyptians manage to carve these humongous statues and temples out of the deep rock of the mountainside? Why did one pharaoh build numerous monuments to himself, and why did he build many of them so far away from his capital?
Abu Simbel has located 280 km from Aswan on the West bank of the Nile in what was once called Nubia. The site was commissioned by Ramses the Second, also known as Ramses the Great, during the 5th year of his long reign, and it was not completed until his 35th year as pharaoh. It is the largest and most beautiful of the many monuments Ramses the Great erected throughout Egypt to proclaim his power. The massive façade, cut into the mountainside, features four statues of Ramses himself, each 20 meters high. Smaller statues of the royal family stand between the four largest statues. These include Ramses’ mother, his wife Nefertari, and their sons and daughters.
Monument Also outside near the statues is a Marriage Stela, commemorating the marriage between Ramses daughter and the King of the Hittites. An inscription over the entrance of the facade reads: Ramesses II, he has made a temple, excavated in the mountain, of eternal workmanship, for the chief queen Nefertari, beloved of Mu, in Nubia, forever and ever, Nefertari for whose sake the very sun does shine.
Within the temple there are eight large statues depicting Ramses as the god Osiris, supporting the hefty ceiling. After passing through halls containing rooms for various rituals, visitors arrive at the most famous part of Abu Simbels' inner temple: A sanctuary room with a small altar and four statues of Ramses as different gods. The temple was designed so precisely that two days each year, in October and February, the morning sunbeams its glorious rays directly into the temple and into the small sanctuary room, illuminating the four statues. To the south of the main temple is a smaller temple dedicated to Ramses wife Nefertari and the goddess Hathor. With the announcement of the plan to build the High Dam at Aswan, Abu Simbel was threatened to become an underwater sanctuary. Images of the gigantic statues appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the globe. Nobody wanted to see the statues sink beneath the rising Nile waters. The salvage of Abu Simbel began in 1963 in a project between Egypt and UNESCO. At a cost of nearly $36 million, the statues and temples were moved to a higher plateau where they could welcome the rising sun each morning.
Like other sites in Egypt, Abu Simbel survived in great condition until modern times. When Greeks visited the site in the 6th century BC, mounds of sand had grown so high that the knees of Ramses statues were covered. When Victorian traveler Amelia Edward visited Abu Simbel in 1873, the site was so captivating that it left her breathless: It was wonderful to wake every morning close under the steep bank, and, without lifting one's head from the pillow, o see that row of giant faces so close against the sky, she said. They showed unearthly enough by moonlight, but no half so unearthly as in the grey of dawn. At that hour, the most solemn of the twenty-four, they wore a fixed and fatal look that was little less than appalling. As the sky warmed, this awful look was succeeded by a flush that mounted and deepened like the rising flush of life. For a moment they seemed to glow – to smile – to be transfigured. Then came a flash, as of thought itself. It was the first instantaneous flash of the risen sun. It lasted less than a second. It was gone almost before one could say that it was there. The next moment, mountain, river, and sky, were distinct in the steady light of day; and the colossi - mere colossi now - sat serene and stony in the open sunshine. Every morning I waked in time to witness that daily miracle. '