Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae - History and Facts | History Hit

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

Discover some of Ancient Egypt's most splendid ruins and one of the most exquisite UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Teet Ottin

04 Jan 2023
Image Credit: Unai Huizi Photography /

About Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of 11 monuments that are found between the two temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. Remarkably only two monuments have remained in their original location, with the rest being moved during the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

History of the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

The World Heritage Site gained its name partly from the Nubian people who have been living in the region for thousands of years. They originate from the central Nile valley, with a history that was deeply intertwined with Ancient Egypt. Throughout the millennia, the Nubians traded, conquered or were conquered by their northernly neighbours.

The monuments found in the Nubian lands are truly ancient, built over 3,000 years ago. It is believed that the structures were constructed by the Ancient Egyptians to show their greatness and power to the local people.

One of the most famous landmarks found in the Heritage Site is the Abu Simbel Temple, created by Ramses II during the New Kingdom period. There are in fact two temples, with the bigger one dedicated to the god Amun, as well as to the Pharaoh and a smaller one dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Rameses II’s queen, Nefertari.

The temple of Philae was a place where people could worship the goddess Isis, becoming a popular place of pilgrimage during ancient times.

The ruins of the Temples of Kalabsha are, compared to the other sites, ‘new’. They were created during the Roman period of Egypt, completed around 30 BC.

The Qasr Ibrim Fortress was once a mighty fortification and city, overlooking the river Nile. Its history began during the late period of Ancient Egypt some 2,800 years ago.

Other significant sites in the UNESCO site are the Temple of Dakka, the Temple of Beit al-Wali, the ancient Granite Quarries, the Temple of Maharraqua, the Temple of Amada, the Temple of Derr, the Roman Kiosk of Quertassi and the temple of Wadi as-Subua.

The Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae today

Many of the monuments were moved following the construction of the Aswan High Dam, completed in 1970. The increasingly high water levers were threatening these survivors of Ancient Egypt, requiring urgent international attention. A coalition of 50 countries saved 22 monuments together with the Egyptian authorities. It was described by the UNESCO Courier as the ‘the greatest archaeological rescue operation of all time’.

Getting to the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

All of the ruins that are open to visitors are located around the manmade Lake Nasser, with five monuments located within the city of Aswan. There are flights between the southern Egyptian city and Cairo, which is the fastest way to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another option is to take the overnight sleeper train that goes from Cairo to Aswan. Dinner and breakfast are included on the 13 hour long train ride.

The most expensive option is to take a cruise ship down the Nile, though it may be the most comfortable.

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Egypt's UNESCO Sites

Explore the wonders of ancient Egypt with a journey to its UNESCO World Heritage sites. From the majestic Pyramids of Giza to the historic treasures of Luxor and the mystical temples of Abu Simbel, immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural marvels of this captivating land.