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The Abu Simbel temples

The Great Temple of Ramsesses II and the Small Temple of Nefretari are located at Abu Simbel village in Nubia. They are on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Their construction began approximately in 1264 BC and was finished 20 years later. The temples were carved out of the mountain and their initial purpose was to commemorate the victory of Pharaoh Ramsesses II at the Battle of Kadesh.

As time went by the condition of the twin temples began deteriorate and they became covered by sand. The result of this was that they were forgotten until 1813.

Swiss orientalist Jean-Louis Burckhardt rediscovered them in 1813. He shared his discovery with Italian explorer Belzoni who later made an attempt to enter the main temple. He became successful four years later in 1817.

In 1959 the temples had to be relocated due to the threat from constantly rising waters from the Nile. The whole operation took place in 1964 and the temples were placed on the artificial mountain, away from the river.

Today many visitors gather at Abu Simbel to witness a spectacular show. The rays of the sun, thanks to the precisely positioned axis of Temple of Ramsesses II, penetrate and illuminate all the sculptures except one, the statue of Ptah, a god of the underworld. This extraordinary phenomenon can be observed only on October 22nd and February 22nd.