Aswan
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Aswan

 

The name Aswan is synonymous today with peace, tranquility and beauty. The town lies on the ancient trade route between Egypt and its southern territories and trade in the times of the Pharaohs was brisk in gold, ivory, slaves and exotic animals. As all major towns and cities in Egypt, Aswan also has its share of spectacular temples; the most impressive of which is Abu Simbel, built by Pharaoh Ramses II. Abu Simbel is situated on the shores of Lake Nasser, and can be reached from Aswan by road or air.

Closer to home the temple of Philae, dedicated to the goddess Isis, is located on an island a short journey from Aswan - the perfect romantic setting, especially for the evening Sound & Light performances. Unfinished Obelisk. Just to the south of this, two Greco-Roman sarcophagi and an unfinished colossus remain half buried in the sand. On the opposite shore (west bank) the cliffs are surmounted by tomb of a Mara. Tombs of the local Paranoiac nobles and dignitaries. The most obvious is Elephantine Island, which is timeless with artifacts dating from pre-Dynastic times onward. It is the largest island in the area. Just beyond the Elephantine Island is Kitcheners Island. The old Aswan dam, built by the British, which was enlarged, expanded, but unable to control the Nile for irrigation. Upriver a bit is the tomb of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan who died in 1957. Known as the Tomb of the Aga Khan, it is beautiful in its simplicity. A road from there leads back to the Coptic Monastery of St. Simeon, which was built in the sixth century in honor of Amba Hadra, a local saint. Today, many travelers visit Aswan to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. A felucca sailboat ride to the Botanical Gardens or Elephantine Island is a wonderful way to unwind.

Aswan Highlights

- Abu Simbel Temples are two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel in Nubia southern Egypt. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km southwest of Aswan. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BCE as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh. However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, 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.

- Philae Island was a rocky island in the middle of the River Nile, south of Aswan . It was called in Hieroglyphic "Apo" which means Ivory. It was also known by the Greek "Elephantine", most probably because it was an important centre of trade, especially for ivory. The Ancient Egyptians built a beautiful and magnificent Temple of the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. These three characters dominate ancient Egyptian culture and their story possesses all the drama of a Shakespearian tragedy. The god Osiris is murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. Isis searches for the fragments, collects them together and with her magic powers brings Osiris back to life. They then conceive the god Horus. Osiris becomes god of the under world and judge of the dead - who must answer to him for their deeds on Earth. Meanwhile Isis gives birth to Horus and protects the young god. Later when Horus is grown he avenges his father by defeating Seth in combat. Isis is a very important figure in the ancient world. She is associated with funeral rites but as the enchantress who resurrected Osiris and gave birth to Horus she is also the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings. She was known as 'Mother of God' and was represented with a throne on her head. During the Roman period her cult spread throughout Greece and the Roman Empire. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London.

- Aswan High Dam was a great project! In fact it was one of the most important achievements of the last century in Egypt, for many years symbolising the New Era after 1952. Today It provides Egypt with water and electricity, and secures the country from the risk of the destructive inundation of the River Nile. As a result of its construction, a great lake was formed, Lake Nasser, which is about 10 km wide in some places, and 500km long. extending between Egypt and The Sudan – the worlds largest man-made lake! This lake also has an immense fish population, which is commercially exploited. Because raising the water caused the damage, and loss, of so many of the Nubian monuments, great efforts were made by the Egyptian Government, aided by UNESCO and other countries, to save the most important monuments of Nubia.

- The Unfinished Obelisk lies in its original location, in a granite quarry in Aswan. It is 42m in length and was most probably abandoned when some cracks appeared in the rock, during its construction. Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever cut in Ancient Egypt, weighing nearly 1100 tons! It is believed that it was constructed and abandoned during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty).

- The botanical gardens of Aswan you can sail in a local felucca boat or take a motor boat to the eastern bank of the Nile to reach this island. where this botanical island is located opposite the city of Aswan and the elephantine island.

- Kom Ombo Temple is an unusual double temple built during the Ptolemaic dynasty in the Egyptian town of Kom Ombo. Some additions to it were later made during the Roman period. The building is unique because its 'double' design meant that there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder, along "with Tasenetnofret (the Good Sister, a special form of Hathor) and Panebtawy (Lord of the Two Lands). The temple is atypical because everything is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis. The temple was started by Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) at the beginning of his reign and added to by other Ptolemys, most notably Ptolemy XIII (51-47 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls. The scene on the inner face of the rear wall of the temple is of particular interest, and "probably represents a set of surgical instruments. A few of the three-hundred crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed in The Crocodile Museum.

- Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu is an ancient Egyptian temple located on the west bank of the Nile in the city of Edfu which was known in Greco-Roman times as Apollonopolis Magna, after the chief god Horus-Apollo. It is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. The temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus, was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BCE.
The inscriptions on its walls provide important information on language, myth and religion during the Greco-Roman period in ancient Egypt. In particular, the Temple's inscribed building texts "provide details of its construction, and also preserve information about the mythical interpretation of this and all other temples as the Island of Creation." There are also "important scenes and inscriptions of the Sacred Drama which related the age-old conflict between Horus and Seth.

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