Abu Simbel Festival
From: Sunday, October 21 2007, 11:00 pm
to: Monday, October 22 2007, 11:00 am
Ramses II, in a fit of precision and despotic architectural egotism, carefully angled his temple at Abu Simbel so that the inner sanctum would light up twice a year: once on the anniversary of his rise to the throne, and once on his birthday. The combination of human endeavour and natural phenomena provides what must be one of the most spectacular sights in the world.
Crowds pack in to the temple before sunrise and watch the shafts of light slowly creeping through the stone. Eventually, statues of Ramses, Ra and Amun are illuminated in the inner sanctum (the statute of Ptah - the god of darkness - remains in the shadows). When they have recovered their breath, spectators can join celebrations outside, including a fair and music demonstrations. However, nothing can really impress you immediately after witnessing such a sight.
When the Aswan Dam caused the Nasser lake to rise and inundate the area in the early 1960s, the entire temple was moved to higher ground and for this reason the sun now strikes a day later than Ramses had originally planned.