Thursday, April 15, 2010

Great Temple of Ramses II

Carved out of solid rock, the Great Temple of Ramses II with four giant seated statues of the Pharaoh himself guarding the entrance is without a doubt one of the greatest monuments in southern Egypt. The real treasures however, lie in the interior of the temple. More huge statues carved into the pillars, reliefs and hieroglyphics depicting the Pharaoh at war and of his family and the gods carved onto every square inch of the interior walls! It was indeed unfortunate that pictures were not allowed inside the temple.

The only downside to visiting the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor next to it, is that because of terrorism in the past directed at tourists in southern Egypt, security is tight, and the only cost effective way to travel to Abu Simbel (where these temples are located) from Aswan is to follow a tour and ride in a police escorted convoy to see these sights. Getting up at 3am, a tour bus picks you up and gather at a staging area with about 50 other buses, coaches and vans. The convoy is then broken up into smaller groups of 5-10 vehicles, and escorted 300 kilometers south to Abu Simbel. While they do a good job at staggering the arrivals so that the wait at the entrance wasn't too bad, you still have about 50 buses worth of tourists arriving at the site and trying to see the same thing all at once! Because the convoy has to leave together, escorted back the same way we came, you are only allowed a little less than two hours to visit the site. While the time was sufficient to see everything, I felt rushed, and the constant stream of people entering the temples made the interiors unbearably stuffy, reeking of sweat and body odor.

All in all, the temples were spectacular, and I am glad I made it all the way this far south to see it. However, I wish I could have stayed longer, and experienced it at my own pace and at my own time.

Temple of Hathor


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