Great Temple of Abu Simbel

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, which took about twenty years to build, was completed around year 24 of the reign of Ramesses the Great (which corresponds to 1265 BCE). It was dedicated to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Rameses himself.

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The facade of Great Temple at Abu Simbel (peek inside), with four colossal statues of pharaoh with the double Atef crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. It is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Rameses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

The facade of the Great Temple of Ramses is about 38 meters long and 31 meters high. The temple is dedicated to the most important gods of the New Kingdom, Ptah (the creator god of Memphis), Amun-Re (the great god of Thebes) and Re-Harakhte (sun god of Heliopolis), as well as to the Pharaoh Ramses II himself.


circa 1300 CE

Enclosure Wall
The open court is surrounded by mud brick wall from the north and the south. It seems that parts of wall has been rebuilt and re-constructed in Roman times, and this is clear through the large mud-brick blocks, which was a feature of the Roman era. In this north mud-brick wall, there is stone gateway that connects between the great temple and the temple of Nefertari.

circa 1300 CE

Chapel of Re-Harakhte
The chapel of Re-Hor-Akhty is located at the end of the northern side of the terrace and Ramses II dedicated it to the god of the sun, Re-Hor-Akhty. However, this chapel generally called "the sun chapel". The chapel was covered with sand until 1910 when the Italian Egyptologist Barasanti found that the south wall and eastern tower of the chapel are destroyed, but the French Egyptologist August Mariette collected the falling blocks and reconstruct them in their original places.

circa 1300 CE

Marriage Stele
Another notable feature of the facade is a stele (identify) which records the marriage of Ramesses with a daughter of king Hattusili III, which sealed the peace between Egypt and the Hittites. The account of the Hittite princess’s journey to Pi-Ramses was engraved on a large stela in the Great Temple at Abu Simbel. The Marriage Stela opens by exalting the pharaoh, portraying the Hittites as a subordinate power. The stela then also recounts the journey undertaken by the princess and her retinue.

circa 1300 CE

Chapel of Thoth
The chapel of Thoth is located south of the facade of the great temple and it is dedicated to the god of knowledge and science, Thoth. It is a room carved in the mountain and was introduced by a court that surrounded by mud brick walls. Amelia Edwards was the first one who enters this chapel in modern times so the chapel sometimes called " Amelia Edwards chapel.” however , Egyptlogically, this chapel is known as “the birth room or Mamisi" or "the chapel of Thoth".


circa 1300 CE

Hypostyle Hall
The hypostyle hall (sometimes also called a pronaos) is 18 meters long and 16.7 meters wide and is supported by eight huge Osirid pillars depicting the deified Ramses. The bas-reliefs on the walls of the pronaos depict battle scenes (inspect) in the military campaigns the ruler waged. Ramesses' great victory at Kadesh (considered by modern scholars to be more of a draw than an Egyptian triumph) is also depicted in detail across the north wall of the Hypostyle Hall.

circa 1300 CE

The second pillared hall, which has four pillars decorated with beautiful scenes of offerings to the gods, depictions of Ramesses and Nefertari with the sacred boats of Amun and Ra-Harakhti. This hall gives access to a transverse vestibule in the middle of which is the entrance to the sanctuary.

circa 1300 CE

Transverse Chamber
Fisheye view of the inner transverse chamber or vestibule (peek inside). Most of the scenes in the vestibule relate to the sacrifice provision. Ramses offers wine to the god Min- Amun and Horus of Meha, milk to Amun-Re, giving bread to the Atum, and flowers to the god Ptah, in addition to small statue of Maat to Thoth.

Relocation of the Temple

circa 1300 CE

The statue of Ramses the Great at the Great Temple of Abu Simbel being reassembled after having been moved in 1967 to save it from flooding of Lake Nasser. The Temple of Rameses along with the Temple of Nefertari was relocated in its entirety in 1968 under the supervision of a Polish archaeologist, Kazimierz Michałowski, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.

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