Abu Simbel Temples, located in southern Egypt near the Sudan border, were built by Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BCE to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.
The temples’ sandstone walls are decorated with intricate reliefs depicting important events and scenes depicting Ramses and Gods Amun-Re and Re-Harakhty.
Constructed inside two rock cliffs, the larger temple is dedicated to Ramses II, while a smaller one nearby is dedicated to his queen Nefertari and their four children.
UNESCO declared the Abu Simbel Temples a World Heritage Site in 1979, recognizing them for their distinctive architectural style.
Abu Simbel Temples Facts for Kids
- The Abu Simbel temples are in Egypt.
- They were built in the 13th century BC.
- They were carved into a mountainside.
- Dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II and his wife.
- They have four large statues of Pharaoh Ramses II.
- The Abu Simbel temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- They are decorated with intricate carvings and paintings.
- The temples were originally built to impress visitors with the power and wealth of Pharaoh Ramses II.
What is the Great Temple at Abu Simbel?
The Great Temple at Abu Simbel is a large rock temple complex that was built around 1279–13 BC under the rule of Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great.
The temple comprises two temples, both dedicated to different gods – the first to Rameses himself, Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah, and the second to his queen Nefertari.
Why was it built?
Ramesses II ordered this elaborate structure to be built during year 24 of his reign as part of an extensive infrastructure program across Egypt and Nubia.
The temple was designed as a testimony to his power and greatness, adorning it with stunning depictions of himself and other Egyptian gods carved into its walls.
How long did it take to build?
The construction period lasted approximately twenty years, with the Great Temple being completed first and then followed by a smaller version dedicated to Queen Nefertari.
What kind of artwork is seen on its walls?
The walls of the temple are richly adorned with stunning carvings featuring Ramesses II alongside other gods, accompanied by hieroglyphic writing containing information about him, including his military activities.
Furthermore, sculptures depicting offerings to various deities are found on some inner walls, while outside colossal statues are found guarding each entrance.
What is the Structure of Abu Simbel Temples?
The Abu Simbel Temples are an awe-inspiring example of ancient Egyptian architecture. Located in Southern Egypt, it is composed of two enormous rock temples, each with a main entrance flanked by four grand statues representing Pharaoh Ramesses II and his beloved wife, Queen Nefertari.
Inside the temples, visitors are greeted by majestic courtyards and side chambers that demonstrate intricate craftsmanship and structural segregation. The hypostyle hall (pronaos) measures 59 feet long by 54.8 feet wide, with eight massive Osiris pillars standing in its support.
On the walls, battle scenes from Ramesses’ military campaigns are engraved in bas-reliefs, commemorating one of his most famous battles – the Battle of Kadesh on the Orontes River in modern-day Syria.
Apart from battle scenes, other smaller structures around the temples depict Pharaoh’s conquests in Libya and Nubia, thus demonstrating his prowess as a great warrior king who expanded Egypt’s borders greatly during his reign.
Overall, the size and complexity of these two grand monuments make them a truly formidable sight to behold for any traveler passing through this corner of Egpyt.
What are the Functions of Colossi?
The colossi in Ramesses II’s temple had multiple functions. These giant statues were intended to represent gods or holy intercessors, providing a visual focus for worship or prayer.
In addition, they were meant to symbolize and demonstrate Ramesses II’s divine authority as ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt.
The temple’s reliefs showed Hapi, the god of the Nile, conducting the ‘sema-tawy’ ritual by binding two plants – the lotus from Upper Egypt and the papyrus from Lower Egypt – around hieroglyphs both sides of Ramesses II’s throne.
This representation was meant to emphasize Ramesses II’s kingship by uniting both lands while also fulfilling his divine mandate.
Ultimately, these colossi acted as a physical embodiment of Egyptian sympathetic magic that linked together both heaven and earth: through it, Ramesses II was able to achieve dualism and balance between these two realms.
Relocation of Developments: Abu Simbel
In 1959, due to rising Nile waters from the nearby Aswan High Dam threatening to destroy it, the ancient Abu Simbel temples were in danger of being lost forever. After reaching out to UNESCO, a global fund-raising campaign was initiated and managed to successfully raise enough funds for the project.
The temples were carved into the sides of cliffs and had to be cut into manageable parts weighing 20-30 tons each; these parts were then transported away from the dam’s flooding and mounted against a recreated artificial hill 65 meters higher.
The original orientation of the sun’s rays entering and lighting up the sculptures on its back wall at certain times was also retained.
This complex was discovered by Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt back in 1813 before being entered successfully by Giovanni Belzoni, an Italian explorer, four years later.
And while Northeast stood a Small Temple dedicated to Ramesses’ queen Nefertari, its statues were made of equal size just like its predecessor created by Akhenaten for his wife Nefertiti at her own temple.
Ramesses II also oversaw much remodeling of old structures as part of his massive building projects all over Egypt, leaving his mark everywhere with cartouches and statues galore.
Nowadays, alongside Giza’s pyramids but thanks to UNESCO’s help in relocating them beyond the prison walls of time, Abu Simbel is one of Egypt’s most visited historical sites celebrating its divinity and power even today.