As I was walking along the Nile Street on my first morning on the way to the Nubian Museum, I spotted this huge and very prominent cathedral just beside the nice Ferial Garden and right on the road bend leading to the Nubian Museum.
It's the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Archangel Michael. The cathedral was consecrated on March 2006 by no lesser than HH the Pope, and attended by a lot of bishops from different places and countries that the cathedral overflowed with attendance.
The size of the cathedral indicates a considerable number of coptic christians in Aswan.
Upon exiting the Nubian Museum building, the surroundings which is walled and part of the 50,000 sqm. museum area displays some interesting structures and the Fatimid Cemetery on the other side viewable from the gounds of the museum. (See pics)
In the outdoor exhibition area you'll find a cave with prehistoric drawings of animals on its interiors, there's also a Nubian house, an outdoor theatre for 500 audience, the maqqam of Saida Zeinab and the maqqam of the 77 Walis, place of prayer, Qubat Al-Mukhasal, and several graves - the Fatimid cemetery on the opposite side of the road, and a water canal (minus the water) said to represent the River Nile surrounded by trees, plants, flowers and birds flying around the area, seen some white birds.
Inside the Nubian Museum is a collection of display one scene after another of the daily life of Nubian's detailed in very attractive and interesting diorama.
Don't miss it, it's may be the last one you'll see right before you finish the museum.
It's kinda bizarre as I've seen a similar display only it's a miniature diorama (Turkish) in Konya 2 weeks later.
On my first morning (I arrived late in the evening in Aswan by plane) I immediately decided to visit the International Museum of Nubia (or Nubian Museum for short). International because it was an ambitious project amde possible through the collaboration with UNESCO (multinational team of archeologists and technical people).
I walked from my hotel along the cornishche - Nile street - passing by all the persistent felluca owners. The weather was nice that morning, some cold breeze (until it got really hot near noon) and took me about 20 minutes about 1km and a half or so.
I reached the entrance which is near infront of the Basma Hotel. There are local school children on a museum tour and some tourists already on a queue at the ticket booth.
I paid EGP50 entry fee. The building looks like it's relatively new - well, it was anugurated in 1997. The Museum won the Agha-Khan Award of Architecture 2001.
The Nubian Museum houses a large collection - about 3 thousands pieces of antiquities, from various ages -- Geological, Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, which are arranged chronologically. It houses the main finds of the UNESCO salvage campaign done at the time of the High Dam contruction which caused flood in the region.
Right at the entrance when you get in you'll be greeted by the huge imposing statue of Ramses II. The artefacts are arranged neatly, in fact, the whole museum looks neat and well maintained (unlike its Cairo counterpart which actually is a lot bigger and more stuff to offer), very orderly and you can easily follow the order of your movements along the way. The artefacts are house in the 3 levels of the building and the vast area outside are landscaped and there are several things also to see around it.
Standing at the garden at the back of the museum, you'll get a nice view of the Fatimid graveyard from a near distance.
The museum offers a lot of articles to see inside and out, so don't miss it when your in Aswan, for sure you can walk to there whenever you'll stay in the city as Aswan is not really a big city.
And by the way, my very first conman was encountered here - a taxi driver! I decided to take a taxi back to the hotel though I can walk again, it was really hot already. I took one of the taxis near the entrance of the museum (don't get a taxi there please!) and we agreed on EGP5 but when I reached the hotel he said it's far when in fact it's walkable so he angrily demanded for 10, we argued for awhile but well, I gave him the 10 and I raised both of my hands in the air like in a state of pray like "God, let this be the only income this scambag will earn this day", (my bad actually :-( ) he knows that gesture and he wanted to return my money but I closed his door and walked away.
"The High Dam project is considered the Egyptian's challenge to the silent nature". (stated in the big board beside the entrance to the dam).
Before heading to the Philae Temple in Agilika Island, my first stop on the whole-day tour that I booked with the hotel I stayed at in Aswan is - The High Dam. It's not very far from the center of Aswan, I think twas just about 15 minutes drive or so.
The truth is -- this sight is a letdown for me. It wasn't that interesting as I thought it would be. We stopped along a highway where the entrance is and paid EGP20 to stand there and watch the dam and reservoir within a very limited viewing deck - something like 20 meters or so. I was about to walk a little near or farther along the deck but the military personnel there told me that I cannot go beyond that area - for security reason I guess. So I did not spend much time there, maybe just 10 minutes and I told my driver to move on to Philae.
The very controversial High Dam is constructed in 1960 under the administration of GGamal Abdel Nasser (Lake Nasser was named after him) with a borrowed funding from the then Soviet Union. There were political issues wherein the US and UK were supposed to fund the dam but ended up in the hands of USSR, but so much for that.
During the building of the high dam, there are several important monuments and temples (Abu Simbel and Philae for instance) which were relocated to avoid getting buried under the water. The High Dam is 3,830 metres long, 980 metres wide at the base, 40 metres wide at the crest and 111 metres tall. It contains 43 million cubic metres of material. At maximum, 11,000 cubic metres per second of water can pass through the dam. The main benefits of the High Dam are protection from floods and droughts, an increase in agricultural production and employment, electricity production and improved navigation that benefits tourism.
There is an imposing tower/monument just near the entrance to the dam called Egyptian Russian Friendship Monument. Built to commemorate Russia's involvement in the construction of the dam. The tower is more than 70 metres / 230 feet high. There's an observation deck up with panoramic vistas across the Dam and its surroundings.
When you're in Aswan and have a limited time, you can without guilt drop this sight out of your list, at least for me, it wasn't that kind of sight to behold.
I'll start with the Nile river. The long river is a sight in itself. When I chose the place I'm going to stay at, I really chose one facing the Nile river so I could have a view the whole time I'm inside the room.
The Nile river is considered the longest river in the world running in 9 countries in Africa. It is 6,650 km long and ends in a large delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
In Aswan, most of the historical sites - monuments and temples - are located along the Nile. Egyptians depended on the river ever since the ancient times, reason why most settlements are located near or along the river.
There are lots of feluccas and motor boats plying tourists along the Nile river, and so are the huge cruises that run between Aswan and Luxor.
I put the Abu Simbel trip to a separate page, so much to say about this place and may not fit in here. I booked the trip through the hotel I was staying at, costs EGP80, transportation by minibus not including the entrance to the site.
You've got to be prepared on this as you have to wake up at 3:00am, wait for the minibus at the hotel and travel on a convoy along with all the transports that goes to the site at dawn. Travel time is about 3 hours from Aswan to Abu Simbel and you'll get to spend about 2 hours at the site and travel back again to Aswan before noontime.
When the Aswan High Dam was to be constructed in the 1960's, UNESCO appealed to the world's Egyptologists and archaeologists to save the history of Nubian Egypt before they were drowned by the waters of Lake Nasser. The 'Nubian Rescue Campaign' saw thousands of artefacts recovered and several important sites relocated.
The number of artefacts salvaged prompted UNESCO to establish a museum where they could be displayed as close to their origins as possible. The museum was opened in 1997. The architecture is styled along traditional Nubian village design and the buildings are set in a terraced landscape of lawns, garden and waterfalls. There is also an open-air stage and amphitheatre.
The museum contains artefacts from the Nubian Dynasty. The Nubians came from the lands to the south of Egypt and many of their significant sites now lie under Lake Nasser. The museum has a section dedicated to the history of the relocation of Abu Simbel and Philae temples along with photographs of the original sites.
The island temple of Isis at Philae experienced occasional flooding which was made worse by the construction of the first dam. It was threatened by complete inundation after the completion of the High Dam and dismantled stone by stone and moved to a nearby island.
The temple was built during the Ptolemaic perioid (332 - 30 BC) and the Greek and Roman influence can be seen in the style of decoration on the capitals of the columns.
The story of the killing of Osiris by Seth, his ressurection by Isis and the birth of Horus is depicted all around the temple. This story is related during the Sound and Light show. Philae is wonderful under floodlights.
Philae is reached fom Aswan and local people take you to the island in small boats.
The two temples at Abu Simbel, those of Rameses II and his wife Nefertari, were discovered, almost covered in sand, in 1813. They became a major tourist attraction of the Victorian era.
The site of Abu Simbel became the focus of another historic event when they were successfully cut up, removed and reconstructed to save inundation by the waters of Lake Nasser aftr the construction of the Aswan High Dam. With the support of UNESCO the project began in 1964. The temples were raised over 60 metres up the cliff from where they were built over 3,000 years ago and reconstructed exactly as they had stood with respect to each other and to the sun. An artificial mountain was constructed to cover the temples. The project was completed in 1968.
This is a must see for any visit to Eqypt. You can take a bus from Aswan (a few hours) or fly (25 minutes). The flight is not that much more than the bus and the convenience is worth it.
It's popularity is its one problem - there are hoardes of people. I was there on a quiet day!
If you are really feeling adventurous you can hire a felucca captain to sail you from Aswan to Kom Ombo.
The trip takes approximately 2 nights. You will be served breakfasts, lunches and dinners, which is a meal of either chicken or beef. It's kind of a rustic way to travel the Nile, but probably one of the most interesting ways to do it. My husband and some of our family members are planning on giving it a try in the Fall of 2011. He also operates motorized boats by the hour on the Nile for 100.00 L.E. (18.00 USD)
The price is based on five persons, $100.00 USD per person, tips are not included in the price.
The contact and felucca captain is Mr. Osama Abdul
Here is the phone number of Felucca Boat caption in Aswan.
+20 12 81 65 238
I used him for a 1/2 day feluccas ride in Aswan. He is Nubian and seems very honest. I could see it in his eyes that I was overcharged when I told him the price I paid for a cruise boat. He can also help you with cruises to Luxor should you wish.
He hangs out by the Aswan Moon restaurant.
I didn't understand all the detail. But I think the felucca caption got his boat from a charity company to help him make a living. The web sire is:
Please rate this tip and my others when you find them useful, interesting, or like the photos.
Our family travels regulary (since 5 years) in the winter time to Aswan,
to savour the Nile and its picturescue landscape. A tour with a
traditional felucca (sailing boat) is, in our opinion, one of the most
beautiful thing to do in Aswan. On the felucca you ride leisurely down
the Nile, while the Nile Islands and sand dunes are passing by you can
enjoy the Peace far from the hectical European Citys. Now and then you
leave the felucca to visit old tombs, the botanical garden of Kitcheners
Island or the Cloistre of Simeon in the desert. The time on a felucca
tour is different because you align to the rythm of the Nile.
The highlight is a day trip to the 1^st Cataract, where you reach behind
the rapids unknown touristy area with Nubian villages and a bathing
place. Here is the nature still intact, the Nile clean, the sand dunes
and the green, copius Nile Islands with their biota espescially
beautiful. If you want to, you can go bathing on the Nile beach or visit
a Nubian village.
Important for the 1^st Cataract trip is a experienced and trusted
captain who can ride the rapids securely. We already made tours with unexperienced captains who couldn´t ride the 1^st Cataract which came into dangerous sloping positions with the
felucca and turned over with the comment, that there isn´t anything
interesting upwards the Nile and that the 1^st Cataract is much more
behind (what was wrong).
A very good captian is Abdullah, you can rent
his felucca at the waterfront (Coniche) in Aswan right across from
Elephantine Island for a very fair price (just ask for the boat/felucca
„Admacum“ of Abdullah Abu Zaid). He is a very calm, discreet and
experienced captain, with him, we made some nice Nile trips to, for
tourists, unknown places and can really recommend. His felucca was very
clean and well-kept.
To discover Aswan with the felucca – one of the best things to We already look forward to our next holiday.
Something you must see, being in Aswan is the high Dam. It's impressive and the lake it created is one of the largest in the world! It gives an impression of what is possible in waterworks even if they are made by Russian engineers!
The dam is highly protected bij Army and Police. Damaging the Dam would be a disaster of enormous dimensions and the number of people killed would be more than at the resent tsunami in the far east. Aswam would not exsist anymore, Esna and Edfu as well and Luxor would be severly damaged.
The amount of electrical power it produces is very high. Egypt exports about 50 % of it to surrounding countries.
The Nubian Museum is worth seeing as it effectively documents this region. The building has three floors for displaying and housing, in addition to a library and information center. The largest part of the museum is occupied by the monumental pieces, reflecting phases of the development of the Nubian culture and civilization.
Exhibits representing various ages; Geological, Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, are in the museum. Highlights of the museum include a statue of Ramsses II, a statue of Amenras the spiritual wife of Amen, the head of the Shpatka, as well as four mummies for nobles, which were found in Kashmatkh town in Nubia.
Of particular interest is a section which documents the saving of Nubian temples and Abu Simbel from the rising waters of Lake Nassar.