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Published: July 19th 2012
Carved right into the rock. It's those giant statues of Ramses II that make the place so famous.
After the pyramids, probably my favorite day in Egypt. Set off with a driver at 11ish for the 3 hour drive South to Abu Simbel. The landscape in this part of the country is nothing but desert - vast, endless plains of sand. At one point, it was 115 F outside the car, and mirages were beginning to appear on the horizon. They really did look like water, and you could see how they could easily lead you astray.
Abu Simbel really is the absolute last major Egyptian site mainly because of geography. It sits only about 30 minutes from the Sudanese border. Got in at around 2, and had 2 hours at the actual temple. This was Ramses II's greatest and most ostentatious temple in all of Egypt, and served as a type of gate for all those people entering his country - basically saying be careful what you do in Egypt because if you screw up you have to answer to Ramses. What's also interesting at Abu Simbel is Lake Nasser. In the 60s, when the dam was being completed, the temple was actually taken apart and literally moved farther up the mountain it was originally cut into.
Approaching the Temple
A glorious place. Again, pretty much had the temple to myself.
This took 4 years to do - so really what you're seeing is obviously not the original temple site. That's underneath the nearby lake.
It was brutally hot - about 110 F outside. But it was well worth the intense sweating for the sheer excitement of having come this far. All the way from Istanbul, Turkey, to Abu Simbel, Egypt, at the border of Sudan!! I loved the temple, but it also meant a lot more to me. I made it. And while the outside is very impressive, inside both of the temples is actually the true highlight. These both feature probably the best wall reliefs in all of Egypt, and especially in Ramses' temple, the rooms wander, and it's fun to explore this darkly lit place. Watched the sunset over the desert on the drive back, a truly beautiful sight.
Tomorrow is my last full day on this trip, and I'm going down to the dam and seeing one last temple.
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