The Nile is so beautiful at Aswan, that I wanted to spend as much time on it as possible.
What better way to enjoy the river than to go on a relaxing felucca ride - feluccas are the traditional canvas-sailed boats of the Nile.
The felucca we went on was manned by two guys, who seemed to know what they were doing....well we only crashed once into another boat!!
There are loads of felucca's available for hire, and prices are negotiable depending on the season. As we were on a tour, our guide looked after all the negotiating, so all we had to do was sit back and relax.
We sailed up and down the river and watched the sunset over the desert - just magical!!
The Nubian Museum is one of the most important museums in Egypt.
It outlines the history and culture of the Nubian people, and was built as a thank you to the Nubians for the sacrifices they made for the Aswan Dam - most of their land is now submerged.
It isn't one of those huge daunting museums, and we were able to cover it in about 1.5 hours - getting a good feel for it all, but not stopping to read about every artefact. You could of course spend a lot more time there.
I particularly liked this large statue, located in the centre of the main hall.
Elephantine Island is the largest island in the Aswan area. It was the original centre of life here, with settlement dating back to 3000BC.
We spent a couple of hours here, visiting one of the colourful Nubian villages. We walked around the village streets and had the chance to interact with some of the very friendly local children.
We also got the chance to visit the home of a well respected resident who owns a fleet of feluccas.
The photos do not do this place justice. It was really interesting to walk the maze of very narrow streets and learn a little bit about the Nubian way of life.
The collection reflects the history and character of Nubia. Among other pieces the collection includes the statue of Ramses II, statute of Amenras, the head of the Shpatka, and the head of black granite of Tahraqa.
The building of the museum is constructed in traditions of Nubian architecture. As it stands on a slope of a rock, its western part is one-storeyed, and eastern part is two-storeyed. The wide ladder conducts downwards from a lobby. Visitors are met with a breadboard model of a valley of the Nile on which tiny copies of the most interesting architectural monuments of Nubia are placed.
The exposition is located by a historical principle. In essence, it is placed in the uniform hall divided into parts by partitions. Among exhibits sculptures and jewels, ceramics and frescos from walls of the flooded Christian temples, subjects of arts and crafts. In the right part of a hall - a breadboard model of the Nubian house with brightly painted facade, household stages with wax figures of inhabitants.
You may see my VIDEO-Clip from my personal YouTube channel: 4 min 20 sec Egypt Aswan Nubian Museum 2007
You may watch my Nubia Museum high resolution photos on Google Earth in Aswan according to the following coordinates 24º 4' 46.69" N 32º 53' 18.36" E
or on my Google Earth Panoramio Aswan Nubean Museum and Aswan Nubean Museum Inside.
Take a nice relaxing ride 30 minutes up the Nile by fellucca to the Nubian Village. The Nubian Village has many small shops selling souvenirs; crafts, scarves, carvings, and tribal
masks. Ladies, stop by one of tea houses or cafes and have your hands hennaed for 150 L.E. (about 30.00 USD) per hand but bargain! Or, take a 30 minute camel ride around the village for about 50 L.E. (about 7-10 USD).
Constructed during the Greco-Roman times, this temple was rescued from the the bottom of Lake Nassar in the 1970's and brought to this island. It's original construction took 800 years and was built during a period when the Cult of Isis was spreading throughout the Roman empire.
The temple was later converted to a Christian monestary before being abandoned after the Islamic conversion of Egypt.
Philae Temple is dedicated to the gods, Isis Horus and Osiris. The story goes that Philae is the place where Isis finds the heart of Osiris after being murdered by his brother Seth. Isis travels the world to find all of the pieces of his body and brings him back to life. The first pylon was built by Ptolemy II and finished by Ptolemy III. The relatives of Cleopatra.
Philae Temple is also one of the temples saved from complete flooding with the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
To see Philae Temple travel by one of the many tourist boats going to the island daily.
Also visit Emperor Trajan's Kiosk the reliefs inside show the emperor as a pharoah making offerings to Osiris, Isis and Horus
Emperor Trajan lived around 100 A.D.
Price: 50.00 L.E. (8.65 USD)
The high-altitude Dam erected with the assistance of the Soviet experts. The international association of civil engineers has named it one of ten outstanding constructions of the XX century! Egyptians gave it a name of the pyramid of XX century.
The High Dam, or el-Sadd el-Ali is situated in 7km above the Old Aswan Dam. This is a massive accumulation of more then 40 billion m3. It consists of stones and sand with a clay core and a concrete facing. With a total length of 3.6km, it pounds the waters of the Nile, which was originally 500m wide at this point. It is 980m thick at the base, reducing to 40m at the top. It has 17 times the volume of the Pyramid of Cheops. The top of the dam is 111m above the base. It was built under the Soviet assistance in 1960th.
A four-lane road runs across the top of the dam. A memorial, a triumphal arch and an inscription commemorate the completion of this huge enterprise and the cooperation between Egypt and the Soviet Union in its realization. Experts consider that the Dam is practically eternal.
It is open for visitors from 9.00 till 14.00. Entrance fee is 2LE (40 cents). Video is forbidden on the Dam!
You may see my VIDEO-Clip from my personal YouTube channel: 3 min 48 sec Egypt Aswan High Dam and Monument 2007
You may watch my High Dam high resolution photo on Google Earth in Aswan according to the following coordinates 23º 58' 16.59" N 32º 52' 5.12" E
or on my Google Earth Panoramio Aswan High Dam , Aswan High Dam 2.
Between Elephantine Island and the left bank of the Nile there is the island of El-Atrun or Kitchener's Island, more recently known as Botanical Island. Once the property of Lord Kitchener, it now belongs to the State, and with its luxuriant abundance of plants and flowers is one of the great attractions of Aswan.
More than 400 kinds of subtropical flora grow on the area about 6 hectares. The pride of the botanical garden - a collection of the palm trees, one of the best in the world. There are about 100 kinds on the island.
I advise to visit this island at extremely hot hours of a day. You will have a rest from excursion impressions in the garden cool. You may reach the island by felucca as well as we on our way to the Nubian village. I don’t know how much the ticket cost because we had a complex excursion, which included felucca trip, botanical garden and Nubian village ($20).
You may see my VIDEO-Clip from my personal YouTube channel: 4 min Egypt Aswan Botanical Island 2007
You may watch my Island of El-Atrun or Kitchener's Island high resolution photos on Google Earth in Aswan according to the following coordinates 24º 5' 43.03" N 32º 53' 19.28" E
or on my Google Earth Panoramio Kitchener's Island, Botanical Island .
In the Northern Quarries can be seen a well famous Unfinished Obelisk. It has about 42m long and 4m across at the broader end. It is considered it was abandoned because of a crack in the stone. It is estimated that the completed obelisk would have weighed 1,168 tons and would have been the largest ever hewn! Round the obelisk has been cut a trench 75cm wide.
On the surrounding rock faces, which are of moderate height, can be seen many traces of the work of ancient stonecutters. It is considered that the blocks were detached from the rock by boring holes along a prescribed line, driving wedges into these and then soaking the wedges with water to detach the block. Statues, sarcophagi, obelisks, etc., were usually roughly dressed before removal in order to reduce the weight for transport.
The Unfinished Obelisk was one of the main attractions for me in Egypt. I don’t believe it was built in ancient time. In my opinion it was made in modern time by modern technology.
You may watch my VIDEO-Clip from my personal YouTube channel: 4 min 35 sec Egypt Aswan Unfinished Obelisk 2007
The majestic monument of the Egyptian-Soviet friendship is erected on the left bank of the Nile, at the western basis of the High Dam. Five petals of a lotus have shot up on 75 m! The Monument was built under the project of architects of Omelchenko and Pavlov. Bas-reliefs were made by the sculptor Vechkanov.
On the central petal, inside of a lotus, words of the president of Egypt Nasser (1918-1970) were beaten out: "For long years of joint work the Arabian-Soviet friendship was shaped and has become so strong that now it is not conceding on the durability to the most high-altitude Aswan Dam".
At height of 46 m petals of a lotus are connected by a viewing platform. It was possible to rise there on the lift early. Now it was closed and I couldn't rise up the platform to admire a panorama around the Dam.
You may watch my Egyptian-Russian Friendship Monument high resolution photo on Google Earth in Giza according to the following coordinates 23º 58' 16.30" N 32º 52' 3.27" E
or on my Google Earth Panoramio Aswan Soviet-Egyptian Obelisk.
To many who venture into this southernmost city in Egypt, the highlight of their visit is the very early morning (as in 4 am) convoy ride to Abu Simbel for Ramses II's Great Temple. Actually, I have mixed emotions whether it was really worth the eight-hour ride, the excessively high entrance fee (at EGP 80 the steepest fee for all Egyptian monuments) and the ungodly hours by which one has to wake up and join a convoy of tourist buses accompanied by a phalanx of heavily-armed Egyptian military men.
No doubt the temple's giant colossi of Ramses II are impressive - in size, that is. But in terms of technology and skill level, they were far less extraordinary compared to the Great Pyramids, for example (according to the Norwegian archeologist who was with our tour group). While the pyramids of Giza required each stone be cut with precision and hauled over great heights, Ramses II's temple required the most "rudimentary" technique in stone cutting and carving - and this was during the New Kingdom, thousands years after the Giza pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom. One would expect technology and know-how in monument building would have evolved to more advanced stages. But not in this case.
Beside the imposing temple is the smaller Temple of Hathor, built to honor Ramses II's wife, Nefertari, reputed to be the most beautiful of the pharaohs' wives. Interestingly, Nefertari's colossi are equal to those of Ramses II - a departure from the traditional style depicting consorts' statues at the pharaoh's knees - a sign of the great pharaoh's love and devotion to Nefertari whose elaborately-adorned tomb at Luxor is said to match her legenday beauty.
For practicalities in visiting Abu Simbel, click this general tip (not enough space here).
When we were in Aswan, we have the fortunate luck to be able to go to the Nubian Village just a little north of town. It was an interesting contrast to that of the Arab countrymen.
Hosni Mobarak actually made it mandatory for the Nubian school children to go to school, so it was neat to see them headed off with their spongebob squarepants backpacks...
The Isis temple complex on Agilkia island is breathtakingly beautiful and divine. It stands majestic and dignified on a landscaped island like an immaculate lilly flower floating on a serene pond. The temple's soaring columns and well-preserved reliefs are as inspiring as they are informative. Clearly, my favorite in all Egypt.
Its rescue from eternal death following the completion of the High Dam in the 1970s is itself a miracle. The temple was moved stone by stone from its original location in Philae island to where it now stands in Agilkia island. Care was taken so that its position closely resembles the original layout. Even the landscaping was not spared to make Agilkia a worthy host of Isis' sacred home on the Nile.
The temple is devoted to goddess Isis, who had a strong following even well into Roman Christian period (up to c. AD 550). During the Roman period, Isis had emerged the greatest Egyptian god and a pilgrimage to this temple constituted one of the highest forms of devotion by Isis' followers.
The temple dates back as far as 380 BC, but much of its present form was built during the reign of the non-Egyptian Ptolemy II mainly as a political move to endear himself to the Egyptians through the worship of their gods. It was also a means to legitimize his reign (and those of his successors) by claiming a direct connection to the much-revered Egyptian gods Isis and her son Horus.
I visited the temple as part of the organized Nile cruise tour - so transportation, guide, boat and entrance fees (EGP 40 ~USD 7) were covered. If you are traveling independently, you could possibly hire a taxi from Aswan to take you Shellal where the boat landing to Agilkia is located. Alternatively, you could book a day tour with one of the many travel agencies on Corniche el-Nil in Aswan, or with your hotel.
The tall, dark-skinned Nubians were one of the more enduring distinct ethnic groups of southern Egypt. In ancient, as well as modern Egyptian history, they have successfully to hold on to their culture, identity, and territory - albeit with some degree of failure on certain occasions.
During the construction of the High Dam In the 1970s, their territory, which covers the area between Aswan and Khartoum in Sudan, nearly completely disappeared from the face of the earth. The submerged Nubian communities had since been relocated, and a museum was built in their honor and as a tribute to their sacrifices, in Aswan - the Nubian Museum.
The Nubian Museum, housed in a well-designed modern building surrounded by a nicely-done landscaped park, features the history and culture of the Nubian people covering more than 6 millenia. Presentation of the exhibits is professionally done with very informative and easy-to-read labels, which are very helpful for visitors without a guide.
More than the statues and monuments, the highlights of the museum should be the lifesize dioramas depicting Nubian life, culture and architecture. The museum's well-landscaped park also contains outdoor exhibits featuring a reconstructed Nubian house and more statues. It is also a great place to catch the sunset over Aswan's west bank, which is visible from the museum's hilly location.
The museum is open from 10am-1pm and 6pm-9pm. Entrance fee as of May 2007: EGP 40 (~USD 7).