Abu Simbel is the site of two magnificent temples built by Ramses II. It lies south of Aswan on the western bank of the Nile in what was then ancient Nubia, it is believed that his intension was to demonstrate his power and his divine nature. Despite its relative remoteness, it is one of the most "must see" sights in Egypt, with tourists arriving both by road and air, as it has a small local airport. The whole site was due to become submerged in the waters of lake Nasser on completion of the High Dam, so a worldwide appeal was launched to save the temples, and in 1964 work began on dismantling the temples and moving them to higher ground. The temples were cut into large blocks and moved 60 metres above their original position, so now they are situated on top of the cliff from which they were originally carved. An artificial mountain was built behind the temples in an attempt to give a better representation of how they looked in their original position. the work was completed four years later in 1968 just in time to escape the rising water level.
The greater of the two temples built by Ramses II has a facade 33 metres high and is guarded by four statues of Ramses in a seated position with much smaller statues between his legs of his mother Mut-tuy, his wife Nefertari and his children.
Inside, the temple has been carved from the rock. the first hall has two rows of statues of Ramses. The walls are covered with inscriptions celebrating the battle of Kadesh. The next hall is smaller and is known as the Hall of the Nobles, it is supported by four square pillars. From here a doorway leads to the Vestibule and then on to the innermost shrine containing seated statues of Ptah, Amun-Ra, Ramses II and Re-Horakhte. The temple is aligned with the sun in such a way that it penetrates right on to the shrine on two days of the year: February 21st, Ramses II birthday, and October 22nd, the date of his coronation. When the temples were relocated, great care was taken to maintain the sites relationship with the sun.
North of the greater temple stands the temple of Hathur. It also was built by Ramses II and dedicated to Hathur, the goddess of love and beauty, and to his favourite wife Nefertari. The temple is carved into the rock face with six statues, four representing Ramses II himself, and two representing his wife, Nerertari.
Inside the roof is supported by six columns on which the goddess Hathor is depicted. On from this can be found the Vestibule with other doorways leading off into other small chambers. In the middle of the far wall is another doorway leading to the Sanctuary. The walls are covered with images of both Ramses II and his wife Nefertari making offerings to the gods.