After Cairo, we flew south to Abu Simbel (about 1000 km) near the Egypt/Sudan border. Located there is the temple the great pharaoh Ramses II built about 1250 BC (shown below).
This monumental work has two fascinating stories. The first is that pharaoh Ramses II built it in the very far south of Egypt just north of Nubia (way above the Nile's first cataract). He did so as warning to the Nubians: “You come any farther north and you’ll be messing with me, Lord Ramses.” The enormous size was designed to awe everybody — potential enemies from over 3,000 years ago, and tourists from all over the world today.
This temple consists of four enormous statues of Ramses (20 meters high) at different points in his life: at left, as a young man all the way to the right which shows an older Ramses. The face of the second statue fell off during the earthquake of 27 BC.
The door in front leads to a gorgeous temple with walls containing incredible art and hieroglyphs. Twice each year (on October 21 and February 21), the sunrise shines through the entry way 75 meters deep into the temple's inner sanctum. Just like something out of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
During the construction of the High Aswan Dam in the 1960s, and the subsequent creation of Lake Nasser (which is the world’s largest man-made lake), the entire temple was moved to higher ground from its original location 400 meters away. Otherwise, it would now be under water. This stunning engineering feat was accomplished by UNESCO and many different countries working together.
Later that afternoon we flew north to the city of Aswan and boarded our boat for a trip down the Nile River. The photo below was taken at sunrise near the ancient temple of Edfu. It was a stunning sight!