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Abu Simbel Sun Festival

The Temples of Abu Simbel is a massive attraction in Egypt, bringing many tourists yearly. Built by King Ramses II, the temples of Abu Simbel are touted to be the most impressive ones in the country. The Sun temple, located on the banks of the River Nile, was built in 1250 B.C. and is carved into the sandstone cliffs. The 65-foot seated Ramses statue is the temple’s main attraction. The complex has two other temples, one for Ramses and the second for his queen Nefertiti.


The extraordinary beauty and grandeur of the Sun temples are simply spellbinding. The temple remained hidden from the world until 1812, when the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt found it. In 1964, the temple was conserved to protect it from the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam. The entire site was dismantled and reassembled 65m higher and 200m behind the river.
The entranceway features 108-foot-high statues of Ramses, leading to a grand hall divided into two treasury rooms. Further inside is the Hypostyle Hall, filled with floral pillars and scenes of the king's family. The monument honors Ramses II's victory in the Battle of Kadesh, believed to have occurred in 1274 B.C. between the Egyptians and Anatolians (including parts of modern-day Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon). It's said that the Sun Temple took about twenty years to build.
Abu Simbel Temple remains in darkness throughout the year except when it sees the natural sunlight stream on two occasions in February and October. The light streams into the complex and reflects on Ramses II and Sun God's seated statues, illuminating the entire place and highlighting its brilliant architecture. T The Sun Festival takes place when the light hits the figures. Even on these two days, the figure that remains still in darkness is Ptah, the Goddess of darkness. The site is marvelous and attracts tourists from all across to celebrate the much-celebrated Sun Festival.
Ramses built the temple at Abu Simbel so that the sanctum sanctorum, or the inner chamber, would light up just two times a year: on February 22, the anniversary of his ascension to the throne, and on October 22, his birthday. The festival is based on a solar phenomenon, and the Sun God was essential to Egyptians. Careful planning was required to ensure everything was aligned just right for the sun to shine where it was wanted. 

Getting To Abu Simbel


Getting to Abu Simbel is a significant adventure in itself. You leave in a vehicle convoy after meeting in Aswan at 4 am. The convoy travels together across the open desert. The military escorts it, and every bus has an armed officer accompanying it to ensure security during the trip in remote regions. The journey lasts three hours, and tourists reach Abu Simbel, near the Sudan border.

The Sun Festival (The rising Sun Phenomena)


During the Sun Festival, a large crowd gathers around the temple to witness the sunrise and meditate. After seeing the spectacular solar phenomenon and looking at the statutes, tourists can participate in the dancing and singing shows. The festival is fun for anyone to enjoy music, dance, food, drinking, shopping at the market, and much more. When here, eating the local cuisine is always advised to enjoy the whole experience. 
On the two days of the year of the Sun Festival, 22nd February, and precisely eight months later, 22nd October, the Tourism sector in Egypt sees many visitors from all across the globe. Witnessing this phenomenon is a feast for all the senses, considering the knowledge of astronomy and technology that ancient Egyptians used to make such a construction and event possible. During the festival, the Ministry of Tourism teams up with the people of Aswan to make arrangements and ensure everything goes smoothly as tourists enjoy this incredible solar and cultural experience.

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