Due to its remote location, close to today’s Sudanese border in Southern Egypt, Abu Simbel was unknown until 1813 when only the heads of the temple’s colossal statues were visible above the sand. The breathtaking impression of its exterior also extends within, where a magnificent hall with two rows of column-like statues leads into the depths of the temple. Abu Simbel is famous for its precise orientation toward the sun. Twice a year, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple chamber and illuminate the rear wall of its innermost shrine. Various portrayals and descriptions of Egyptian gods can be found throughout, many of them portrayed with animal heads, such as hawks.
Due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, Abu Simbel has been relocated from its original position on the banks of the Nile. Thanks to an international effort by UNESCO, and at a cost of 42 million dollars, the surface of the hill and the inner chambers were sectioned and reconstructed 64 m higher up the valley, inside a concrete dome. The smaller Hathor Temple, dedicated to the wife of Ramses II, Princess Nefertari, was also saved in this way.
Today, the great temples of Abu Simbel rise once again in all their former glory.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.