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Abu Simbel Festival
From: 2014.02.22 To: 2014.02.22
Not only was Ramses II the greatest Pharaoh and the greatest builder of the Egyptian Empire, but he was probably also the greatest egotist the world has ever seen. Abu Simbel, the colossal twin temples that were carved into a cliff during his reign about 3200 years ago, are undoubtedly the most magnificent monuments dedicated to his and his beloved Nefertari’s glory. The Great Temple was carefully oriented so that twice a year (on the emperor’s birthday and on the anniversary of his rise to the throne - when else?), the rays of the rising sun illuminate the inner sanctum along with the gigantic seated statues of Ra, Amun and the deified Ramses (but not of Ptah, the god of darkness). Pretty cool, you say? The folks at UNESCO thought so too, so they rescued the temples in the 1960s when the monuments came under threat of being submerged by the nearby reservoir, Lake Nasser. The sanctuary was moved to higher ground, meaning that nowadays the sun lights up the temple a day later than poor Ramses originally planned. The biannual spectacle nevertheless remains as magical as ever, making the Abu Simbel Festival, without wanting to gush, second to none.