Travel Tale: Egypt (Edfu – Kom Ombo – Philae – Abu Simbel)

One of my all time travel dreams was to go to Egypt, and as a very excited 25 year old, I got to experience it with two amazing friends from university. Here is part three of what we got up to – to read part one, you can click here and for part two, click here!

Edfu Temple – which is also known as the Temple of Horus – is located in Edfu which is between Aswan and Kon Ombo. It is a phenomenally well-preserved temple site dedicated to the falcon headed god Horus and is of great archeological significance because of the wall inscriptions. Some of these inscriptions depict how the temple was built and also the sacred meaning behind some of the myths surrounding Horus.

Front of Edfu Temple

Front of Edfu Temple

Part of the reason for the excellent preservation of this site is due to the fact it was built in the later part of the Egyptian pharaonic era (Ptolemaic 237 to 57 BC – there are lots of documents written in Greek and ancient Egyptian from this time) and the fact it was abandoned as a place of worship when non-Christian religious observance was outlawed by the Romans.

It was left unused and eventually became buried under the drifting desert sands – not to be rediscovered until 1798 by the French and then finally dug out of the sand and nile silt in 1860.

Beautifully clear temple carving/inscriptions at Edfu

Beautifully clear temple carving/inscriptions at Edfu

Next stop on the adventure was a visit to the temple of Kom Ombo. This temple is somewhat unusual amongst the others to be found in Egypt, and that is because it is dedicated to two sets of gods, and therefore has duplicates of each area.

One area is dedicated to Sobek (the crocodile headed god – there is a mummified crocodile that you can admire) and the other area is dedicated to Haroeris (also a falcon headed god like Horus).

Part of Kom Ombo temple lit up at night

Part of Kom Ombo temple lit up at night

Kom Ombo has suffered at the hands of earthquakes and repeated Nile flooding over the years, so much has crumbled or been destroyed. We did, however, find one amazing example of painted/coloured hieroglyphs/wall reliefs. I could not believe it when I saw it, and felt so amazed that I was looking at the artwork of someone from  thousands of years ago.

Amazing colours at Kom Ombo Temple

Amazing colours at Kom Ombo Temple

There is also a nileometer you can look down into – it was used by the ancient Egyptians to measure the Nile water levels during the annual floods. So much to see here at the double temple site of Kom Ombo!

For now though, it was back on the riverboat and a pleasant journey to Aswan.

On our Nile riverboat

On our Nile riverboat

We stopped off to unpack and get comfortable in our room at the Kalabsha Hotel, and admire the views from our window, and then to prepare for a trip to Philae Temple.

View from the Kalabsha Hotel

View from the Kalabsha Hotel

Philae Temple is on an island in the surrounding Nile waters and was another temple complex site, this one dedicated to the worship of Isis. It has some very impressive standing buildings with various carvings and inscriptions, plus its island location make it one of the more intriguing places to spend the day looking out on to the Nile waters.

Philae (the island) and the temple

Philae (the island) and the temple

The next stop was a quick visit to Aswan High Dam – the 1960s constructed embankment dam that controls the annual flooding waters of the Nile enabling regulation of water for irrigation.

Aswan High Dam

Aswan High Dam

The construction and use of the dam has also been the cause of some of the 20th centuries greatest engineering feats – one such feat being the meticulous deconstruction of the temple at Abu Simbel – our next stop on our Egyptian journey – which was then rebuilt, in its entirety, on a higher location so it would not be lost to the redirected flow of the Nile.

Abu Simbel statues of Ramses II

Abu Simbel statues of Ramses II

Abu Simbel consists of two huge temples, one dedicated to my favourite, naturally redheaded pharaoh, Ramses II, and one to that of his first, and principal wife, Nefertari. It is also a monumental dedication to Ramses’ reign and his politically advantageous win during the Battle of Kadesh.

The main man - Ramses II statue up close at Abu Simbel

The main man – Ramses II statue up close at Abu Simbel

It is an amazing place to visit, and probably the favourite part of the trip for me – I am such a nerd, I felt so excited to be in a place that was built in the reign of, and for, Ramses the Great. I think he had a particularly good eye for creating something that is uniquely striking and iconic (much like the pyramids).

Nefertari's temple at Abu Simbel

Nefertari’s temple at Abu Simbel

He was the master of creating his own narrative and how he wanted to be remembered – which was not difficult, as he lived until the incredibly ripe old age of 90 or 91 which, at the time, must have seemed like he was going to live forever as it was considerably longer than the average lifespan of an ancient Egyptian!

This was beyond magical for me – and was the perfect way to bring an end to my Egyptian adventure.

Have you ever been to Egypt? Where did you go and what did you think? Is Egypt on your travel list for the future?

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2 thoughts on “Travel Tale: Egypt (Edfu – Kom Ombo – Philae – Abu Simbel)

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