If you are a lover of the mysterious festivals, here in Egypt, we have a very special and unique one. The Abu Simbel Sun Festival happens every year in Egypt twice in two different months, February and October. Many tourists gather from around the world at that time of the year especially to witness this incredible festival.
This kind of festival is a bi-annual event, Egyptians celebrate it two times of the year in the amazing temple of Ramses II. There is a magical thing that happens on these two days of the year, the sun illuminates the temple’s central chamber. Because of the perfect architecture, the sun illuminates the inner statues of the temple, Amun (the king of the gods) and Ra (the sun god), and leaves Ptah (the god of darkness) in the shadow. Can you imagine, architecture in ancient Egypt can control the sunlight to illuminate some parts and avoid other parts for more than 3,200 years, this is incredible for sure.
There are two temples built inside the Abu Simbel temple, one is for Ramses II and the other built for his wife, the beautiful Queen Nefertari. For sure the two temples were built by Ramses II, he started building this temple from 1290 to 1224 BC.
In the front entrance of the temple, you will find the statue of Ramses II at 65-foot tall. This temple is one of the top attractions in Egypt as all the inner chambers were built especially to get aligned with the sun on those two days of the year.
Let’s know more about Ramses II or Ramses the Great. This king was the third pharaoh that took the rule of Egypt in the 19th Dynasty after the death of King Seti I. Instead of the temple of Abu Simbel, Ramses II built lots of monuments, temples, and great cities, he also led many successful wars with a very strong military. His rule lasted 66 years starting from his early twenties and ended with his death in 1213 BC. You can find Ramses II’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor city but now his mummy resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo city.
To book your visit calendar for this festival, you have to know exactly when the two days of the sun festival happen. The first day is on the 22nd of February and the second one is on the 22nd of October. Do you have the curiosity to know why exactly these two days of the year?! I will tell you.
The first day which is on the 21st of February is the anniversary of king Ramses’ rule over Egypt, and on the second day which is the 21st of October is his birthday. Only in those two days, the whole sanctums get in light with the sun’s rays, and the other days of the year it is kept in darkness. So a great king like Ramses II chose to make the sun and the whole world celebrate his two special days with him and built this incredible structure of Abo Simbel.
If you’ve noticed there was a difference between the festival day on the 22nd of the month and the anniversary itself on the 21st of the month too, we will tell you the reason in the following paragraph, keep reading.
During the construction of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s, a huge threat occurred towards Abu Simbel temple because of the flooded water. So there was a perfect operation that happened to move the entire complex of the temple to be 200 meters away from the waterline.
Because of this painstaking operation, they could rescue this masterpiece and let Egypt get the benefits needed from the high dam. Because of this situation of moving the temple, of course, the temple took a different place than the original one where the sun used to light on the 21st, so this occurs a change on the festival day to be later than the original one and make it on the 22nd of the month.
Visitors from all over the world gather with local Egyptians before the sunrise outside the temple, they wait to watch the sun rays cut through the temple darkness especially at the inner chamber. To reach the heart of the temple, you should have a small walk through its incredible entrance and enjoy the impressive colossal statues. At the end of your walk, you will reach the grand hall in the middle of 2 treasury rooms with amazing decorations of pillars and bas-reliefs that gives you the royal feeling. Don’t miss passing by the sanctuary, where you will find the four famous statues in a great scene.
After enjoying this special scenery, you will get outside to enjoy some traditional Nubian dancing and a great performance of live music with some food stalls offering you lots of delicious local food.
A festive atmosphere like this should be on your list at least once in your life. You will witness an architectural miracle that happened thousands of years ago when there wasn’t any technology. The sun chooses parts of the temple to light on special two days of the year and guesses what! These two days are only special for the great Ramses II. A mysterious adventure like this should never be missed, here are lots of packages that suit the Sun Festival of Abo Simple.