Nederlands - nl-NL

ASWAN

feluccaLocated some 800 km (500 miles) south of Cairo, Aswan, called the ‘Jewel of the Nile’, can be reached by plane, by first class sleeper train and of course by road and boat. Cruises on the Nile either start from here to Luxor or the other way around. Southern Egypt, referred to as Upper Egypt, boasts a warm and dry climate, making it ideal for a winter break. Summer temperatures are high, however due to almost no moist in the air, people of the northern hemisphere experience this as comfortable heat. The Nile is most beautiful at Aswan peppered with large and small rock islands, green riversides, tropical gardens and numerous feluccas sailing its sapphire waters.
Migrating birds from all over the world can be spotted throughout the year. If you are passionate about bird watching, we will be happy to include this item into your itinerary. Bring lots of film or an extra memory card and a binocular.
Aswan’s inhabitants, the tall dark-skinned Nubians, are renowned for their hospitable nature, warm smiles and cheers. They are extremely talented musicians and dancers, so if you have a chance, attend their unique celebrations and folkloric shows.
The combination of a tranquil retreat with the option of visiting important ancient Egyptian historical sites is what makes Aswan a popular holiday destination.

SIGHTS

(Click photos to enlarge)

Temple of Isis
Philae5Due to fears of this sacred complex to vanish underwater after building the Aswan High Dam, the Temple of the goddess Isis was moved from its original Philae Island and rebuilt on Agilkia Island.

The temple complex dates back to Ptolemaic times. The adoration of the goddess Isis was so powerful that even in Roman times pilgrims from all corners of the empire travelled to Philae to invoke the goddess’s healing powers.
The capitals of the elegant plant columns, of which no two are alike, demonstrate the Ptolemaic artisans capacity for creating intricate, natural detail. The reliefs on the walls are like a pharaonic style movie, showing you the story of Isis, her brother/husband Osiris and their son Horus: Once upon a time… there lived a king and his beautiful wife… Our Egyptologist guides will tell you the rest of the story.
The human story can be seen as well: Early Christians transformed the main temple’s hypostyle into a chapel and defaced some of the old reliefs, while their inscriptions were in turn vandalised by the early Muslims. Nevertheless, the sacredness of the temple can still be felt on this beautiful island floating as a jewel in a pool of royal blue.

Kalabsha
It takes a 10-minute boat ride to reach the small island where you find the temples of Kalabsha and Beit Al-Wali and the Kiosk of Qertassi. A stone causeway leads from the lake up to the first pylon, beyond which are the colonnaded court and the eight-columned hypostyle hall. Climb the stairs up to the roof of the temple… the view of the lake is fantastic. The temple of Kalabsha was dedicated to the god Mandulis, the Nubian form of Horus wearing an elaborate headdress of ram’s horns, cobra’s, and plumes surmounted by sun discs. The nearby charming little Kiosk of Qertassi once stood at the entrance of the sandstone quarries. Two of the capitals are decorated with cow-headed Hathor heads.
Since very few people visit this temple island, you will probably be there alone. So take your time and enjoy this lovely and very interesting site.

Unfinished obelisk
Had it been completed, the obelisk would have been, at 1168 tonnes, the single heaviest piece of stone ever fashioned. However, a flaw appeared in the rock and the disappointed stonemasons abandoned it, still partly attached to the parent rock. If the pyramids did not impress you yet, then ask yourself the following question: how did those ancient Egyptians get the giant granite obelisks to their destinations hundreds of miles away from the quarries and how did they erect them?

High Dam
This masterwork of modern technique created the world’s biggest artificial lake. A modern lotus flower towers over the visitor center as a symbol of friendship. With the completion of the High Dam, much of ancient Nubia was flooded and the waters of Lake Nasser submerged many valuable and irreplaceable ancient monuments. In order to save the monuments, the UNESCO, the Egyptian government and numerous other countries mounted a salvage program. Entire temples were cut up and transported piece by piece to higher ground of which the preservation of the temples at Abu Simbel ranks as the greatest achievement of the rescue operation.

Tombs of the nobles
If you’re itching for exercise, climb the straight causeways used to haul sarcophagi to the tombs, otherwise follow the less steep winding path or let a camel carry you up the high cliffs on the west bank, honeycombed with tombs. By far not as impressive as the tombs in Luxor, the paintings of these modest tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdom are infused with lovely scenes of daily life and the careers of the owners.

Monastery of St. Simeon
Also on the west bank, surrounded by the desert sands, are the remains of a typical early Christian fortress monastery. Begun in the 6th century the monastery was in constant use until its abandonment in the 12th and 13th centuries. It provided accommodation for about 300 inhabitant monks plus 100 pilgrims. The monastery’s central keep demonstrates early use of the arch. Under the fragmented domes as well as in the rooms under the main church you can find fragments of Coptic art.

Elephantine Island
Aswan’s largest island was occupied from predynastic times. A small museum houses pharaonic artefacts. The museum’s lush garden leads you to the remains of the Temple of the ram-god Khnum, a small 4th dynasty step pyramid, a tiny Ptolemaic chapel, a Satet Temple, a cemetery for sacred rams and two Nilometers.
On the island are two native villages. It’s nice to stroll through the narrow, twisting alleys. The Nubian houses have a distinctive architecture, with plastered or whitewashed walls covered with colourful pictures and decorations.

Kitchener’s Botanical Island
Lord Kitchener, a passionate botanist, turned the island in the beginning of the last century into a delightful garden with plants and trees imported from the Far East, India and Africa. The island is a perfect place for a peaceful stroll along shaded paths.

Abu Simbel
280 km south of Aswan are the four colossal statues of Ramses II sitting majestically in front of his temple dedicated to the gods Ra-Harakhte, Amun and Ptah and, of course to the deified pharaoh himself. The rock-cut façade is about 30 meter high and 35 meter wide. The temple is aligned in such a way that on 22 February and 22 October the first rays of the sun penetrate the temple and illuminate the gods and the pharaoh. Until the temples were moved, the phenomenon happened one day earlier.
The other temple of Abu Simbel is the rock-cut Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Queen Nefertari, Ramses’ beloved wife. Inside, the six pillars are crowned with Hathor capitals. The beautiful reliefs depict Nefertari before the goddesses Hathor and Mut, the queen honouring her husband.
Abu Simbel can be reached by road or by air.

 

For Culture, Red Sea and Desert Tours, please visit www.egypt-tours.org

For Culture tours with Golf, please visit www.egyptgolftours.com
Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 82-84, 1011LW Amsterdam The Netherlands. Telephone: 0031.20.6224390