Abu Simbel Temples
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt along the Nile about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of "Nubian Monuments" which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae.
The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel consists of four seated colossal statues of Ramses II carved into the mountain, forming one of the boldest temple facades in the world. It is aligned so the sun's rays travel through the mountain and illuminate Ramses' sanctuary twice a year: October 22 and February 22.
Ramses II was a 19th dynasty pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled for 67 years during the 13th century BC, the apogee of Ancient Egypt's power and glory. This extraordinarily long reign, the wealth available in the state coffers, and, undeniably, the pharaoh's personal vanity meant that Ramses, of all the ancient rulers, left what is perhaps the indelible mark on the country. His legacy can be seen most clearly in the archaeological record; in the many buildings that Ramses modified, usurped, or constructed from the ground up.
What to See
There are two temples at Abu Simbel. The larger one, generally known as the Temple of Ramses II, is dedicated to Ra-Horakhty, Ptah and Amun, Egypt's three state deities of the time. It features four large statues of Ramses II in the facade. The smaller temple, referred to as the Temple of Nefertari, is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified Ramses’ most beloved wife Nefertari (the pharaoh had some 200 wives and concubines total).
The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Ramses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The facade is 33 meters high, and 38 meters broad, and guarded by four statues, each of which is 20 meters high. They were sculptured directly from the rock in which the temple was located before it was moved.
The Temple of Nefertari is located north of the Great Temple of Ramses II. It was carved in the rock by Ramses II and dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty, and to his favourite wife, Nefertari, for "whose sake the very sun doeth shine." The façade is adorned by six statues, four of Ramses II and two of Nefertari. Most unusually, the six are the same height, which indicates the esteem in which Nefertari was held.
The Battle of Kadesh
The walls depict scenes, which show Ramses’ greatness in battle. Ramses was particularly proud of his victory at the battle of Kadesh and depicted this on numerous monuments including this temple. Scholars today believe this battle with the Hittites was a stalemate.