Egypt and the Nile

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Philae Temple

Philae is one of the highlights of any visit to Aswan. To reach it, one can take an organised excursion booked through a travel agent, cruise boat, or hotel. Alternatively, take a taxi to the boat landing at Shellal on the east side of the old Aswan Dam. From here you can buy tickets to visit the island itself, and for the small boats that transport tourists to and from the island. The ticket office can be Philae Temple 1found at the end of a tourist bazaar at the gate to the boat landing. During the boat trip you will get to see your first glimpse of the temple. Dedicated to Goddess Isis, the temple was originally constructed on the island of Philae, but with the construction of the old Aswan Dam, the temple site became partially submerged, so tourists viewed the temple ruins from rowboats. With the construction of the new High Dam, the site was due to become completelyPhilae Temple 2 submerged so the whole temple was dismantled and rebuilt on the nearby higher island of Agilika, which was modified to resemble Philae. To make all this possible, a coffer dam was constructed around the temples and the water was pumped out the temples were carefully dismantled with every block assigned a number and its position noted, they then resembled the temples.thus saving them from the waters of the Nile, and enabling the site to opened to the public again.  Metal pylons on the old island of Philae can still be seen rising from the water to the south of Agilika.

Philae Temple 3Built by Ptolemy XII the first pylon of the temple of Isis stands at the end of two colonnades. carved into it are reliefs that depict the king overcoming his enemies and worshipping the Goddess Isis. Passing through the first pylon you enter into the east courtyard which contains a birth house and a Roman chapel. The birth house contains reliefs of Isis suckling her son Horus. The eastern court also contains a colonnade. This colonnade has ten pillars, and five rooms, each with two storeys. What these rooms were used for has been lost in time.

Philae Temple 4The western colonnade of the Philae Temple had 31 columns; the eastern colonnade was never completed. An additional entrance in the first pylon can be seen on the left, this is the passage to the birth house. Further on is the second pylon, this was built by Ptolemy VIII. The passage through this pylon leads into a hypostyle hall and the sanctuary of the Temple of Isis.

In the hypostyle hall of the Temple of Isis, is an example of how the Coptic Christians later utilised parts of the temple for their own use. Some wall reliefs have been defaced and Christian symbols have been carved on the wall and into a stone that has been used as an altar.

There is a distinctive structure Known as the Kiosk of Trajan. It was originally the main entrance to the temple when approaching from the river. The building is rectangular in shape and would originally have had a wooden roof supported by the fourteen remaining columns. Depicted Inside is the Roman emperor Trajan making offerings to the Egyptian gods Isis, Osiris and Horus.

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