This year for the challenge I will be blogging about some premier sites & sights that I have experienced on my travels abroad.
With ‘A’ I was spoiled for choice – Alhambra & Angkor Wat would have made fine opening subjects, but I plumped for one of the earliest ‘wonders’ that I had viewed.
In April 1997 I went on a superb tour of Egypt run by Explore taking in Cairo, Aswan & Luxor and a whole host of wonderful antiquities.
There were many highlights and one of them was the remarkable temples of Abu Simbel. We travelled the 300km by bus from Aswan, leaving our hotel at the extremely unattractive time of 3.30 in the morning. We were actually in a small convoy of six coaches that had a police escort at either end on account of rebel snipers in the mountains above the road south.
The anti-government dissidents had attacked tourists in the then recent past as they tried to hit tourism, so vital to the Egyptian economy. There was some trepidation amongst our party as you can imagine, but thankfully all went smoothly.
We finally arrived at Abu Simbel in the scorching late morning and gladly decamped from our transport clutching plenty of water bottles. The temples featuring giant statues of a seated King Ramesses II were remarkable in their own right. What made it even more amazing was that they had actually been raised block by block up onto an artificial hill 61 metres above its original site, as if left it would have been submerged by the creation of Lake Nasser, the artificial reservoir that was formed when the Aswan High Dam was completed in 1968.
The vast temples were constructed between 1244 & 1264 BC. The larger one was dedicated to Ra-Harakhty, Ptah and Amun, Egypt’s three state deities of the time. It features four towering statues of Ramesses II in the facade – three in tact and one that partially collapsed in an earthquake shortly after its completion.
When reconstructed the ruins were placed in the exact corresponding position that they had laid after the damage was caused.
The smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified by Nefertari, one of Ramesses’s wives.
Queen Nefertari is oft cited as one of the most beautiful women ever to have lived. Inside the smaller temple stands a golden frieze of the queen on the back wall that had to be positioned very carefully indeed. Not so much for its delicate state, but due to the fact that for a two days every year in February & October the sun’s rays shine through the entrance to bathe her golden likeness in total sunlight.
Clever people the Egyptians.