2017-10-18 Four Seasons Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

A very early start to the day arriving at the Cairo Airport at 5.45 am for our trip to the amazing ancient temples of Abu Simbel
Within the hour we board an Egyptian Air flight to Aswan
Our flight is firstly to Aswan and then from there we take another flight to Abu Simbel which is situated approximately 340 kms south in Nubia

Spectacular views over the River Nile from the air
We pass the bridge that spans the River Nile at Luxor, where we motored under during our recent Nile cruise
As we approach the airport at Aswan, the Aswan Dam can be seen in the distance
Overlooking the large mass of water created by the construction of the Aswan High Dam which was built between 1960 and 1970
The first Aswan dam was completed in 1902 and provided valuable irrigation during droughts but could not hold back the annual flood of the mighty Nile River
During the late 1950’s the Egyptian leader Nasser instigated the construction of the new dam which keeps the Nile from flooding and harming the people who live near it, while also generating valuable electricity
The dam is fed by the River Nile and the reservoir forms Lake Nasser
Landing at Aswan Airport we wait to catch another flight to Abu Simbel
Once again we are in the air flying south over the barren desert

Arriving at the airport at Abu Simbel we are collected by a driver and guide to take us to the ancient site
Passing through the village of Abu Simbel we make our way towards the ancient site
On our arrival at the Abu Simbel ancient site we follow the paved walkway to the world famous temples
In 1964 the salvage of the ancient temples at Abu Simbel began in order to preserve them from being completely submerged by the rising waters when the Aswan Dam was to be finished at the end of the decade

We pass the original site of the temples which would have been submerged today if it would not have been for the amazing undertaking of UNESCO to organise salvaging them
Our first glimpse of the ancient temples now standing in their new position 65 m higher and 200 m back from their original position
Construction of the original temple complex started in approximately 1264 BC and lasted for about 20 years, until 1244 BC
The temple is dedicated in theory to Amon-Ra, Harmakis and Ptah but in practice it was constructed for the greater glory of its builder, Rames the Great (Rames II)

UNESCO chose a Swedish company who put forward a proposal to remove the overhanging rock mass, the cutting up of the temples into pieces and their reconstruction on a plateau above the original level. Firstly 17,000 holes were drilled into the stone through which resin was injected to consolidate the structure. 33 tons of resin was injected and about the same weight of iron braces were found to be necessary to stop the stone from crumbling. The monuments were sawn into 1036 blocks whose average weight was 36 tonnes on top of the 1010 pieces cut from the surrounding rock. This was an extraordinary feat as the waters of the Nile began to rise more rapidly than predicted so it was a race against time to get the huge job done to save the temples
Four seated statues (one damaged) of Rames II guard the entrance to the temple

Twice a year, on the 21st March and 21st September, at 5.58 am, a ray of sunlight would penetrate 65 m between the entrance and the shrine and bathe Amon-Ra and Rames II in light. A few minutes later the ray would move on and fall on Harmakis. After 20 minutes the light disappeared without falling on Ptah as he was the god of darkness. Unfortunately things changed with the move however in February 1969 the light once again shone briefly on the gods sitting in the shrine

The Pronaos with the eight Osirian pilasters
Another tick off our bucket list of places to visit in our lives!!!
Nearby is the facade of the “Small ” Temple of Hathor dedicated to Nefertari, the wife of Rames II
After our two flights back to Cairo and our return to the hotel we visited an adjoining shopping complex
We decided to have an early dinner here after a long day of travel and sightseeing
We shared a mixed seafood dish
Followed by a tasty steak with pepper sauce
……..and lots of vegetables on the side
Of course Ric required something sweet to finish up with….

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