This is an unusual temple because it is duplicated, mirroring itself on either side of a central axis. This is because it was dedicated to two gods: Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world along with Hathor and Khonsu, and also Horus, and each needed their own set of rooms. Sobek was the crocodile god so, of course, crocodiles were mummified for him.
The right side of the Temple is dedicated to Sobek-Re (a crocodile God combined with the sun God Re) along with his wife and son. Sobek is associated with Seth, the enemy of Horus. In the myth of Horus and Osiris, Seth and his followers changed themselves into crocodiles to escape. The ancient Egyptians believed that by honoring the fearsome crocodile as a god, they would be safe from attacks.
The left side is dedicated to Haroeris, the "Good Doctor" (a form of the falcon-headed god Horus the Elder) along with his consort Ta-Sent-Nefer, the "Good Sister" (another form of Hathor).
The Edfu Temple is also known as the Temple of Horus (the Falcon headed God) There are falcons that guard the entrance to the Temple
The pylons show the God Horus, his wife, the Goddess Hathor, and the Pharaoh, grabbing his enemies by the hair, ready to smash their heads, a typical propaganda pose of the Pharaoh. The entrance is flanked by two huge, exquisite granite Horus falcons. It leads into the Great Court. The walls here are lined with reliefs, one of them showing the "Feast of the Beautiful Meeting". Annually Horus of Edfu and Hathor of Dendara were brought together during a big celebration.
The sacred barge on which the golden statue was carried to reunite Horus with his wife Hathor during the annual festival. (Main Picture)
Most visitors arrive by cruise boat and either walk to the temple or take horse drawn carriages.
The Temple of Horus is open 7am-4pm (to 5pm June-Sept). Entry costs LE 35.
Philae island is famous for the legend of Isis and Osiris. The pylons within the temple of Isis contain depictions of the deities involved in this famous ancient Egyptian myth. Goddess Isis is the wife of Osiris and mother of God Horus. In the myth Osiris was murdered by his brother the wicked God Seth. Seth scattered Osiris pieces in various places. Isis tirelessly searched for Osiris's body parts and then using her Goddess powers to join the pieces together and bring Osiris back to life. Following Osiris' resurrection Isis and Osiris conceived Horus. Osiris then adopted the role of "God of the under world and judge of the dead. At the end of the tale Horus grows up to avenges his father by defeating Seth in combat.
Philae is the legendary resting place of Osiris. Isis is associated with funeral rites but as she resurrected Osiris and is the mother of of Horus she is also the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings.
The entrance fee to get on the island is 50LE.
The unfinished obelisk is the largest known ancient obelisk that is found in Aswan. The obelisk is carved directly out of the bedrock, but a crack appeared in the granite and the project was abandoned.
Entrance to see the Obelisk is 30LE
We got up nice and early to meet up with the convoy heading to Abu Simbel. We found our place in the convoy and waited for the signal to go. There was an army truck inbetween each tourist van. It was a 3 hours trip south to Abu Simbel. No stops! No washrooms breaks! It was extremely hot even in our air-conditioned van.
Once there we were advised to have a washroom break before heading to the temple. Once again check my tourist trap about the Public Washrooms This time we paid to go in, but there was no ONE sheet of toilet paper handed to us.
We headed to the temple of Abu Simbel. This Temple, like the Temple of Isis (Philae) had to be disassembled, cut into pieces and reassembled in a new spot. The Dam threatened to drown the original temple so it was moved and reassembled.
You are not allowed to take pictures inside the temple, you are not allowed to touch the walls either. There is paint on the pictures that has been there since the temple was built. Sure makes me wonder what they did to their paint that makes it stay on a surface for 6000 years or so when I can't keep it on my walls for much longer than 10 years.
The most remarkable feature of the site is that the temple is precisely oriented so that twice every year, on 22 February and 22 October, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple-cave to illuminate the back wall of the innermost shrine and the statues of the four gods seated there. How they were able to construct this so that the sun falls directly on the face of Abu Simbel (I believe one date is his birthday the other his coronation, I will never know)
We left the temple and walked to the covered canteen. It was 56 degrees Celsius in the sun in the middle of November. Once all of us were ready to go, we headed to our van. We wouldn't be in an army convoy going back but we would have 2 soldiers in our van with us. We stopped halfway for a washroom break. That meant try to find some cover and go. Well I skipped that, I had no desire to have a scorpion or snake take a bite out of my bottom.
It costs 80LE to get into to see both temples.
Oh this was such fun. It was a total surprise that we were going here. Carole, our tour leader had taken a poll to see how many of us wanted to go to a traditional Nubian Dinner and Show. Well of course we all said yes. She called someone and asked if there was a chance we could come for the traditional dinner. Hooray we an go!
We grab a ride to the dock where we will hope onto a boat and take a quick ride from the East Bank to the West Bank of the Nile. We make it there and walk up the hill to the dining area. We are the only ones that are here, they opened just for us. I can't remember how much the exact cost was,but I remember it being fairly cheap for a meal (maybe 30LE - 50LE). We picked our table, which just happened to be directly in front of the stage area where we would watch the show. They came to ask us what we wanted to drink. Then they began serving us our food. There were many different salads, dips,bread, vegetable and I had ordered the beef.
Then the entertainment began. Nubian dancers dancing their traditional dances. They made us all get up and dance in a line. Then at the last skit was 5 of us up there basically playing Simon Says. The leader was one of the Nubian men and he made us all laugh. After the entertainment was over, some of us got to hold a baby alligator. Then it was time to go. We thanked our hosts for a magnificent meal and fantastic entertainment. Back on the boats and back to our hotel.
The construction of the dam raised the waters, covering, amidst other things, the temple of Philae.
Tourism was already the top business in Egypt, and the decision to preserve it was easy - an artificial island was built, and the temple dismounted and rebuilt on it. Now, a boat is need to visit it, in a short and pleasant trip.
Read carefully when booking a package. We joined a spanish group, but we were the only ones to make this visit, while they were transported back to the boat, waiting for us. It was not in their program...
Located near Aswan, the world famous High Dam was an engineering miracle when it was built in the 1960s. It contains 18 times the material used in the Great Pyramid of Cheops. The Dam is 11,811 feet long, 3215 feet thick at the base and 364 feet tall. Today it provides irrigation and electricity for the whole Egypt and, together with the old Aswan Dam built by the British between 1898 and 1902, 6 km down river, wonderful views for visitors.
From the top of the two Mile long High Dam you can gaze across Lake Nasser, the huge reservoir created when it was built, to Kalabsha temple in the south and the huge power station to the north.
Erecting the obelisks should have been a hell of a job.
If we remember that most of them were cut in Aswan, and carried down the Nile, the work turns Cyclopean. The cutting of the Unfinished Obelisk in the Northern Quarry of Aswan, stopped when a crack appeared, as it was being extracted from the rock.
It would have weighed over one thousand tons, and would have been the largest piece of stone ever handled. Now it became the first tourist attraction in Aswan, making us think how would they move it.
Just like the Abu Simbel temples, the Temple of Isis in Philae island was dismantled, chopped into pieces, moved and re-assembled to it's present location at Agilika island, some 550 meters from it's original location.
This is due to the continuing water overflow caused by the construction of Aswan high dam. The water goes up to 2/3rds of the temple that a team under UNESCO collaborated to move/save it from deterioration during the 60s and 70s.
This trip is a part of the private car tour I booked with my hotel in Aswan, cost EGP70 for the transport for 3 sights. Going to Philae Temple means you have to book a tour or hire a taxi that will take you to the lake where the entrance is -- not the entrance of the temple itself, but the entrance to the lake, then hire a boat there, and if you're alone like I was I have to hire the whole boat or if you're in a group, then split the cost of the boat trip --- to Agilika Island where the temple is. The boat cost for 1 whole return trip one person only is EGP50 (because I was alone), group would mean splitting the cost, cheaper than single passenger of course, most probably about 10 each depends on the number of passengers as you hire the whole boat. If you're alone, haggle for the cost but the least is 50.
The boat trip is about 10 - 15 minutes and the approach to the temple is nice. The boatman will be waiting for you at the small landing in the island.
For things to see on the island and photos of course, please check my Philae page.
If you're not that really interested to see a local village and their daily life, I would not really recommend it as on the top list to see in Aswan. In fact, I did not go there, some people I know did, I just watched it from my felucca sail. If you're in a tipping mood - go - but a visit to the village might turn out either enjoyable or you might end up thinking it's a tourist trap.
You can get a henna tattoo from the village women at a price (or baksheesh) which by the way, check if you ahve allergies with hennas, as you might end up scratching your tattood skin for several days.
You'll get to walk around the village, watch their daily lives, enter their colourful houses (get permission of course, but normally they will invite you), drink tea, partake with their shisha --- and of course, will be lured inside some souvenir shops.
I've seen two Nubian villages, one in the westbank side of Aswan centre, and the other one near the Agilika Island when I took the Philae Temple trip. Oh no, not 2, I saw several once I remembered when I took the train trip from Luxor to Aswan, the train passed by several Nubian villages along the way. (See photos). The houses are colourful, mostly in shades of yellow and blues.
The Sharia as-Souq or Aswan Market or Tourism Market, it's all one and the same.
The souq or market area is a large area and in a long street. This should be on my Shopping Tip but well, the place is also a sight to see - either you buy something or you don't. It's colorful, you'll enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smell, the people, the stuff on sale - clothing, beddings, souvernirs like papyrus, statuettes, jewelries, talismans, nubian handicrafts, swords, masks, henna, perfumes, bread, food, fruits, vegetables, spices especially those attrative dark red karkadeh.
People said this is the most charming souq in Egypt - maybe - because of the lack of high-pressure selling prevalent in other souqs in Egypt, like in Luxor and Cairo. And I think the stuff here are better value and quality.
Best time to go is late afternoon, the atmosphere is quite different, like a flea market of sort, and of course it's colder as the night starts to fall.
Don't start to bargain if you're not planning to buy a thing at one shop or another, and if you won't - learn to say No in a polite way. Or if you're just wandering around the souq and not buying anything and shop people approach you and offer you their wares - just say "La Shukran" (no, thanks...) either with a smile or just not looking, but don't be rude... and they'll leave you alone.
If there's nothing left to do in Aswan, take a leisure long stroll along the Nile Street - the cornische road. It's their promenade, you can even start your orientation of Aswan by strolling along here before heading onto any sightseeings, just to have a glimpse or get an overview of life in Aswan. Many local people walk along this promenade everyday and more during the early part of the night, in fact when I'm not walking down there, I'm watching the people from up there in my room on the 4th or 5th floor of Memnon Hotel just before retiring to bed.
There are a lot of stuff to see along the corniche, restaurants that offer a nice Nile river view line up the cornische and that include american fastfoods like KFC and McDonalds. There is also a small garden/park just before you reach McDo.
Start walking from the entrance of the Firyal Garden and end up past the McDonalds. Just soak up in the sights, watch the feluccas, the massive luxury ferries anchored at the banks waiting for their passengers - they sail between Aswan and Luxor - and when you get tired, dine in at one of the restos or sip a cup of hot tea or arabic coffee at one of the cafes. Plus of course get bothered by the felucca guys who will definitely approach you offering their felucca sails.
And as the sun starts to go down slowly and hide behind the sandy desert hills of the westbank, it seizes the Nile river scene in a perfect picturesque-orange-y moment... very dramatic indeed.
It's the small park at the end of the Nile Street.
I passed by this garden on my first day on the way to the museum, it's Archangel Michael's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. The day I took a full day's private car tour I availed from the hotel for EGP70, I ommitted the Unfinished Obelisk from the itinerary the last minute instead when we're about to reach the hotel, I spotted the garden again and told the driver to drop me off at the entrance and that he can leave, I'll just walk back to the hotel -- won't be more than 15-minute walk.
Entry fee to the Firyal Garden is EGP5.
The main feature of the garden/park is the panorama deck up on the edge of the Nile river. It command a breath-taking full view of the Nile river, the garden at your back, and both sides the river and infront of you in a distance is the westbank's desert with all of it's sights.
Familes, couples, children, just sit there on the grass or the benches having picnics. There's a snack kiosk, tiolets, playground for the kids, water fountain, and some rare trees and plants, some of them even have labels with its scientific names.
It was late afternoon so I just lay down on the grass and rest.
My last day in Aswan, I was thinking of going to the westbank or Elephantine Island, but I was tired and lazy and I just want to sit or relax, my legs are already complaining from the tiring trips to Philae, walks along the Nile street to Nubian Museum, the Abu Simbel trip during the previous days.
So I thought about, well, a felucca sail would be nice, just to experience it, though I'm not really a huge fan of sailing. Besides I felt sympathetic to the plight of the felucca owners who kept bothering me - one even approched me maybe 4 times in 2 days and followed me for minutes distressed about the lack of tourists and business - so I gave in. But of course I bargained hard at EGP20/hour and I said I need only 2 hours, yet I ended up paying 50 -- 10 as a tip, I'm on a tipping mood that day. After all it's not easy to start the felucca boat, climb on the pole to set down the sail.
A Felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat, no noisy motor, just depending on the wind to move around the Nile river.
The felucca captain (alone, no assistant) escorted me to his boat and laid down the wooden thing to connect the pavement where I was standing and the boat - the water in between, so imagine that it's a bit shaky and I have to balance myself. We sailed around and along the Nile - me and the captain, I was on the front deck lying most of the time on my back just watching both sides and the blue sky above. It was quiet, calm and I just take in all the sights along the baks of the Nile. We passed by the sights on the banck of the westbank but I'm not really in the mood of getting off the boat when the donkey or camel guy on the other side offered a ride to the sights on the westbank. I told the captain that I just want to relax on the felucca and wait for the sun to set down.
Sunset along the Nile while ON the Nile river was an amazing sight, could have been romantic -- except -- I was alone! Still it was relaxing, and a good feeling that I got a rest and likewise a nice feeling that some good soul earned his income for the day...or kinda...
These feluccas also could take you on an overnight trip to Komombo and Edfu, some even all the way to Luxor. Am so lazy to do that though and don't have much luxury in time. Besides a 2 days or 1 day on a felucca means you'll all (normally in groups) sleep inside the covered felucca at night near the bank somewhere as the boat doesn not sail at night, and you will have to use either any bush on the banks for those "call of nature" thing or a any local house known to the felucca captain (or not). Plus the pesky mosquitoes. It must be fun, just not on my plan.