Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments”,which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan).
The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors.
The temple is 33 m (108 feet) high facade with four colossal enthroned statues of Ramses II wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The interior of the temple revealed the union of God and the king.
Temple of Hathor
Dedicated to the goddess Hathor, the smaller temple at Abu Simbel was built by Ramses II to honor his favorite wife, Nefertari. The hypostyle hall has Hathor headed pillars and is decorated with scenes of Ramses slaying Egypt’s enemies, watched by Nefertari. The vesituble shows the royal couple making offering to the gods, and the inner sanctuary holds the statue of Hathor in the form of a cow.
However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.
The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.