Aswan gears up for Abu Simbel temple solar alignment celebrations
CAIRO: Upper Egypt's governorate of Aswan is gearing up to host a ceremony to mark the biannual phenomenon of solar alignment over the Abu Simbel temple, Youm7 reported Sunday.
For most of the year, the inner sanctuary of Pharaoh Ramses II's (1279B.C.–1213 B.C.) main temple at Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness. However, the temple was built so that a shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom and illuminates statues of God Amun Re and the Pharaoh in the temple's inner shrine twice a year; Oct. 22, which marks the birthday of Ramses II, and Feb. 22, which marks his coronation day.
Thousands of tourists flock to the temple in the early morning of the said two days to observe the phenomenon every year. The Abu Simbel temples are among seven archaeological sites in Egypt on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Abu Simbel is the seat of two rock-cut temples that were built by Ramses II; the great temple which was basically dedicated to God Amun Ra and the temple of Queen Nefertari, the pharaoh's wife, archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban previously told The Cairo Post.
"In the 1960s and during the construction of the High Dam in Aswan, UNESCO launched a universal campaign to rescue the twin temples along with other Nubian monuments to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, a massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the dam," said Sabban.