1200BC-500BC-Iron Age Africa Egypt Archaeological sites, ancient temples

Abu Simbel – The Magnificent Ancient Temple of Ramses and Nefertari

Abu Simbel The Grand Temple, Egypt
Source: Pixabay
3000 years ago, Ramses II, the most famous Pharaoh of Egypt, decided to build a magnificent Temple. And not only did he build a grand temple for himself, but he also built one for his beloved wife, Nefertari. Here in Abu Simbel is one of the few temples where the wife is depicted at the same level with her husband, Pharaoh.

Tourist Information

Construction Year1265 BC
Age3285 years
TypeAncient Temple, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Other NamesThe temple of Ramesses-Meryamun; Ramesses, beloved by Amun; Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
Commissioned byRamses II
StructureThe Great Temple, The Small Temple
Dedicated toThe Great Temple: Amun, Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and the deified Ramses II 
The Small Temple: Hathor and Nefertari
Getting thereDistances:
Aswan – 280 km
Luxor – 591 km 
Hurghada – 611 km
By plane
A direct flight from Aswan
By Bus (part of an organized tour)
Traveling by private car is not recommended. Abu Simbel is generally not accessible to foreigners traveling by their own car, because of police security concerns.
By Boat (as part of an organized tour)
It is possible to travel by cruise ship from Aswan through Lake Nasser to Abu Simbel.
TicketsAround 11 E / pax
360 panorama https://www.360cities.net/image/abu-simbel-lake-and-temples#12.21,2.61,30.0
Accommodation in Aswan5 stars:
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract
Mövenpick Resort Aswan
Tolip Aswan Hotel

4 Stars:
Citymax Hotel Aswan
Accommodation in Abu SimbelSeti Abu Simbel Lake Resort – 4 stars (30 min walk from Abu Simbel Temples)
Eskaleh Nubian House – Unrated
Nubian Lake House – Unrated, Private Host
Best Time to VisitNovember till February (Summers are very hot, Winters are warm and mild)
LocationAbu Simbel, Aswan Governorate, Egypt, Africa


Travel Tips for Abu Simbel Visit

  • Hire a guide for exploring the temples. The site provides too little information about the tombs and temples. Guides are not permitted inside the tombs but they can provide information outside the tombs before you enter.
  • Bring a lot of water and a few sandwiches.
  • There are many cafes along the road and near the temples. High prices in high season.
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear a hat – the sun is hot
  • Wear close-toed shoes as the area around Abu Simbel Temples is sandy
  • Prepare for a long day. Usually, the buses leave for Abu Simbel around 3 AM in the morning. Unless you stay in Aswan or you are on a Nile cruise the excursion to Abu Simbel will take all day.
  • If you stay in Abu Simbel:
    • Early morning boat tours of Lake Nasser can be arranged.
    • You must participate in 30 min light show that is happening in the evening (October – April – 6 PM and 7 PM / May – September 7:30 PM. The show is happening if there are sufficient visitors)

The Great Temple of Ramses

  • The Great Temple is dedicated to Ramses II and commemorates his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.
  • Four colossal 20 m-high statues, representing Ramses II seated on a throne, guard the entrance of The Great Temple.
  • Beneath these giant statues are smaller statues representing Ramses’s family members.
  • The Great Temple took about twenty years to build.
  • The original temple was built along the axis of the sun so that each year on 21 February and 21 October (most probably Ramses’ birthday and coronation day) light from the sunrise illuminated the chambers where statues of Ra, Amun, and Ramses II sit. However, since the temple’s relocation, the illumination now happens on the 22nd.
  • The pillars inside The Great Temple depict Ramses II as the God Osiris and Ramses embracing his divinity.

The Small Temple of Nefertari

  • The Small Temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor (the goddess of beauty and love) and Nefertari (Ramesses’ wife).
  • The Small Temple was built about 100 m northeast of the temple of Ramesses II.
  • Two statues of Nefertari and four statues of Ramses guard the entrance of The Small Temple. Remarkably, this is one of the very few instances in Egyptian art where the statues of the king and his consort have equal sizes.

The Move of the Temples

  • The temples were forgotten by the world in the shifting sands until 1813.
  • Abu Simbel Temples were moved to higher ground in 1968. Moving the Temples took almost 5 years, and cost about 42 million dollars. The project involved over 3 000 workers.
  • The site’s name has not been Abu Simbel. Seems that Abu Simbel was the name of the guide that led Swiss scholar Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (the man that rediscover the temples under the sand).
abu simbel small temple egypt
The Small Temple / Source: Pixabay
The Great Temple / Source: Canva

About the author


I am Catalina, and my passion for travel, mysteries, legends and archaeology drives me to explore the world and uncover its hidden wonders.