I have always, always wanted to see the Sun Temple at Abu Simbel. Ever since I stumbled across a National Geographic article about it as a child, I have been equal parts fascinated by its imposing facade and its methodical relocation, saving it from certain doom. I found that our guidebook summed it up aptly with the following: “[Y]our mind boggles at its audacious conception, the logistics of constructing and moving it, and the unabashed megalomania of its founder.” (emphasis mine because, really, what a great phrase).
Abu Simbel is in Southern Egypt, very close to the border with Sudan. It is located in what was once Nubia, before Nubia was divided between Egypt and Sudan, which is why you may see Abu Simbel referred to, in this blog post and other places, as one of the “Nubian monuments.”
Although it is possible to stay in the village of Abu Simbel, most people (us included) visit as a daytrip from Aswan. Groups from Aswan travel the nearly 300 kilometer route in a convoy of vehicles leaving at 4:00 a.m., reaching Abu Simbel around 8:00 a.m. and giving you two hours at the site before making the return journey back to Aswan. Continue reading Unabashed Megalomania (Or, The Temples at Abu Simbel)→
From Luxor, we planned to head south to Aswan so that we could make the journey to the Abu Simbel temples. Most tourists travel this route by boat, stopping at some lesser-known temples along the way. That idea interested us, but the first two days on the boat are generally spent seeing the sites in Luxor while the boat is moored in town.
Having just spent the pastthreedays exploring the Luxor area, a packaged tour taking in the same sights did not seem very appealing.1 Instead, we decided to hire a driver to transport us the 200-some kilometers from Luxor to Aswan so that we could stop along the way to visit the intriguing sites of Edfu and Kom Ombo.2
Across the Nile from Luxor lies the Theban Necropolis, a collection of mortuary temples and tombs built over the course of almost fifteen centuries. From the ruined grandeur of the temples to the dark tombs lined with scenes of funerary rites, the site is breathtaking to visit. There is so much to see that we split our trip to the Theban Necropolis over two days, and even then we didn’t see everything that there is to see.
Luxor is the second-most visited location in Egypt. Its reputation as one of the world’s greatest open-air museums is well-deserved: Luxor is home to the ruins of the sprawling Karnak temple complex and the multi-layered Luxor Temple, not to mention the incredible Theban Necropolis just across the Nile.