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Abu Simbel

The temples of Abu Simbel, two massive rock sanctuary in Nubia, southern Egypt, near the border with Sudan. They are located on the shores of lake Nasser, about 300 km by road southwest of Aswan.

The twin temples were originally carved in the rock during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC as a monument to the ruler and his wife Nefertari to commemorate the victory at the battle of Kadesh. Their large relief figures on the outside became world famous.

The construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1264 BC and lasted for about 20 years. Known as "Temple of Ramesses, beloved of Amun", he was one of six similar stone structures erected in Nubia during the long reign of this Pharaoh. Over time the buildings fell into disrepair and was covered with sand. Already in the 6th century BC, the sand covered the statues of the main temple up to the knees.

Re-opening monuments took place in 1813, when Swiss orientalist Jean-Louis Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple, but did not get inside. In 1817 Giovanni Belzoni was able to enter the complex, and later was made the first detailed description of the temples, and pencil sketches.

The complex consists of two temples. Larger dedicated to RA, Ptah and Amun - the three main deities of Egypt, its facade is decorated with four large (20 meters) statues of Ramses. The room is smaller - the temple of the goddess Hathor, symbolizing Nefertari, the most beloved of the many wives of the Pharaoh. The enormous figures of the king seated on a throne in the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, were carved directly into the rock. The upper part is crowned by a frieze. The statue left of the entrance was damaged in the earthquake, survived the lower part, and the head and torso can be seen at the feet of the monument. Located next to other statues, they are not above the knees of the Pharaoh. The figures depict Nefertari, the Queen-mother, Tuy, his first two sons and first six daughters.

The entrance is crowned by a bas-relief representing two images of the king, bowed his head in front of a sculpture of a Falcon with RA in a large niche. A distinctive feature of the facade is a stele which depicts the marriage of Ramesses with a daughter of king Hattusili III as a confirmation of the peace between Egypt and the Hittites.

The inner part of the sanctuary - classic triangular forms characteristic of the ancient Egyptian religious buildings, with numerous side chambers. Hypostyle hall of 18 16.7 meters supported by eight huge pillars with statues of Osiris, God of the underworld. The figures along the left wall wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, the statues on the opposite side are wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The bas-reliefs on the walls depict battle scenes of different campaigns. Hypostyle hall goes to the second room with pillars, decorated with scenes of offerings to the gods. This room leads to the sanctuary where on a black wall carved in stone with four seated figures: RA, the deified Ramesses, and the gods Amun RA and Ptah.

It is believed that the axis of the temple was positioned in such a way that on October 22 and February 22, the rays of the sun penetrated into the sanctuary and illuminated the sculpture on the back wall, except for Ptah, the God of the underworld.

The sanctuary of Hathor and Nefertari, or Small temple, was built at a distance of about one hundred meters northeast of the temple of Pharaoh Ramesses. This is the second in the history of ancient Egypt, the temple dedicated to the ruler. The rock face is decorated with two groups of colossi that are separated from each other by a large arch. The statue, with a height of just over ten meters, depicts a Pharaoh and his wife. On both sides of the portal are two statues of the ruler surrounded by the gods Seth and Horus, the small figures of princes and princesses. The interior of the Small temple is a simplified version of the Great temple. The bas-reliefs on the side walls of the rock sanctuary represent scenes of offerings to various gods from Pharaoh or Queen.

Each temple was served by a separate priest, which represented the Pharaoh in daily religious ceremonies.

The complex was transferred in full in 1968 on an artificial hill above the Aswan dam reservoir. Relocation of temples was done to prevent them from flooding during the creation of lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the construction of the Aswan dam on the Nile river.