Abu Simbel

In February 1813 the Swiss Johann Ludwig Burckhardt set out on a journey to the headwaters of the Nile. From an occasional fellow traveler he heard once the strange name of Ebsambal. So the locals called some ancient temple with figures of the gods. Today, this cave temple, part of the famous complex Abu Simbel, is called the Small.

So the locals called some ancient temple with figures of the gods. Today, this cave temple, part of the famous complex Abu Simbel, is called the Small

After passing the desert strewn with stones and rocky ridges, the horsemen left on the path that ran along the bank of the Nile. On the opposite, western bank of the Nile, he saw giant pylons rising from under the earth, between which towered giant statues. Behind them was a strange structure, something like a facade adorned with niches, clinging to a rock, and maybe like in city Petre, carved into it. And the figures, and the rock, and the entrance cut in the rock - everything was covered with a thick layer of sand.

A new shock awaited Burckhardt on the banks of the Nile. A little to the south of the statues of the Abu Simbel temple, where they had just visited, against the background of orange-brown rocks Burkhardt saw a colossal face. Then another, another, the third... Similar to each other as two drops of water, the stone colossuses looked indifferently at the Nile waters flowing in front of them. Their heads were crowned with crowns of pharaohs. The mountains of sand rose above them, threatening to completely hide them from the human eye...

Before Burkhardt, no European ever saw the colossi of Abu Simbel. They made an indelible impression on him. These statues guarded the entrance to the ancient temple. However, he could not alone unearth this colossal building, which is now called the Great Temple. Burkhardt only accurately described the mysterious heads and their location in the hope that future researchers will reveal the mystery of Abu Simbel. It is hardly a century - until the 1910s, the clearing and study of Abu Simbel continued.

The ancient Egyptians built many cave temples, but the temples in Abu Simbel surpassed both the size and the finish of all their predecessors. Four colossal statues twenty meters high, as it turned out, depict the great pharaoh Ramses II. The ancient sculptor carved them right in the rock. On the heads - double crowns, the face is decorated with a pendant stylized beard - claft. The figures sat so that the entrance to the Great Temple of Abu Simbel did not reach their knees, and even on their feet people had to look up, their heads up. Inside the temple painted with frescoes, decorated with bas-reliefs, glorifying the deeds and exploits of the pharaoh. And that temple, which Burkhardt saw at the beginning, was dedicated to the wife of Ramses II - Nefertari.

Today it is already impossible to imagine Egypt without Abu Simbel. This temple of Ramses II, was built 3200 years ago.

In the middle of the 20th century, the world witnessed another miracle connected with the Abu Simbel temple. After the commissioning of the Aswan Dam, the temple of Ramses II, together with the most valuable statues, frescoes and bas-reliefs, was bound to disappear under water. Architects, sculptors, engineers from all over the world took part in the development of projects to save Abu Simbel. The following plan was adopted: to cut the statues and the temple together with the rock into separate blocks, raise it to the surface and gather it in a different, safe place. Works lasted more than two years, and from August 1966 the rebuilt temple of Abu Simbel already adorns the rock near the old bed of the Nile.