Want to see the Abu Simbel Sun Festival in Egypt? This handy guide will provide you with everything you need to know about this unique event.
This monumental temple complex was built by King Ramses II (c.1279-1213 B.C.E.) as a demonstration of both his worldly and divine power. He was the most prolific pharaoh in terms of building works, and a highly accomplished military leader.
In the early 1960’s, the entire temple complex was moved to higher ground when the Aswan Dam caused Lake Nasser to rise and inundate the area. The two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they were reassembled, in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain.
During the construction of Abu Simbel Temple, Ramses II wanted its internal chamber to light up twice a year – the first time on 22 February, on the anniversary to his ascension to the thrown and the second time on his birthday on 22 October.
Every year, the temple faces east, and at the solstices – twice a year – the dawn sunlight is aligned to light the entire length of the temple entrance corridor (some 200 feet inside), lighting up three of the four statues at the end of the corridor. Only the statue of Ptah, the god of darkness, fittingly, remains in darkness.
The solstices’ commemorate Ramses II’s ascension to the throne on 22nd February and his birthday 22nd October every year.
Want to see the Abu Simbel Sun Festival for yourself? Have a look at our Abu Simbel Sun Festival tour, which departs on 19 October 2017 and 19 February 2018.