5 Most Famous Temples in Aswan

Aswan is a much smaller city both in area and population as compared to the busy cities of Cairo or Luxor. A friendly town along the Nile, this place is Egypt's ancient corridor to Africa. There are many spectacular ancient temples in and around Aswan, which can be easily explored by setting up base in Aswan. Let me take you through the spectacular ancient temples of Aswan.

1. Philae Temple

Currently located on the Agilkia Island, this is an ancient temple devoted to Isis, the ancient Egyptian Greco-Roman Goddess. Osiris and Horus were also worshipped here. The temple, built in the Ptolemaic period (332 to 30 BC), is well preserved. This temple was also used by Christians as a church. The wall carvings depict Coptic crosses. Philae is a rocky island in the middle of the Nile, and this temple is the main attraction of the island. The other attractions include the Kiosk of Trajan, The chapel of Osiris, Temple of Horus and the Temple of Hathor. The gateway of Tiberius and Diocletian along with the temple of Augustus makes for a fascinating trip.

Philae Temple, Aswan
Philae Temple, Aswan

Entrance Fee:  

180 EGP per adult
90 EGP per student with a valid ID
20 EGP per tripod

Time:

07:00AM – 05:00PM June – September
07:00AM – 04:00PM October – May

Sound and Light Show:

The evening sound and light show are not to be missed.
Ticket Price: USD 19

How to Go

You need to take a boat ride but negotiate the boat price with the boat taxi. The boat carries eight people in all.

Boat Taxi Price: Approximately 175EGP (Roundtrip)

Time: 10 minutes

Climbing to the top fee: 100 EGP (Adults), 50EGP (Students)

The view, of the Nile in all its abundance and majesty, from the top, is breathtaking.

2. Abu Simbel Temple

Two huge rock structures, made of two colossal rocks, the temples stand, in all their greatness, like timeless observers for over 3,000 years, on the western banks of the Lake Nasser. The temple in Aswan is a spectacular piece of architecture, carved out from a mountain in the 13th century BC, under the rule of Ramses II. This monumental beauty was devoted to his queen, Nefertari and himself, as an iconic structure, celebrating his victory at the battle of Kadesh. This structure also helped 'Egyptianize' the Nubians, the original habitants of Aswan. The temple was dismantled in the modern times after the Aswan Dam was built and relocated at a higher elevation.

The grand statue of Ramesses II sits just outside the temple. Between his legs sit the royal family and his beautiful wife Nefertari. There is a smaller temple dedicated to Nefertari signified as Hathor, the horns, solar disc and plumes are an artistic description. The temple of Ramesses dominates the premises while Nefertari comprises pillars with a head of Hathor. The wall carvings and inscriptions narrate the lives of the kings and queens.

Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan
Abu Simbel Temple, Aswan
Time: 06:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Entrance fee:
255 EGP per person
133 EGP per student
300 EGP per camera ticket
20 EGP for a tripod (Even if you wish to take photos with your cell phone, you have to purchase the photography ticket.)

How to Reach
Location: 300km (186 miles) south of Aswan on the western bank of the Lake Nasser
Fight: Aswan to Abu Simbel (roundtrip)
Price: $325 per person (prices keep changing, so check on the Egypt Air website for updates)
Time: Average of 45 minutes

· Air Egypt Flights. Time your flight in such a way that you can spend at least 1.5 hours in the temple complex.

The airline provides a bus service that takes you till the temple. It takes 5 min to the temple complex from the airport. You can also fly from Cairo to Abu Simbel. Travel cost $500 per person.

· By Land
Tour service or private car
Time one way: 2.3hrs to 3 hrs.
Total tour time 8 hrs.
Don’t miss the sound and light show
Time: 07:00 PM - 08:00 PM in winter
08:00 PM and 09:00 PM in summer
Price: 60LE

3. Kom Ombo and Edfu

This temple in Aswan is dedicated to two gods and divided into two complexes. The first complex is for Sobek, the god with the crocodile head who gives fertility to the rich Nile bank. Horus or the god with the falcon head occupies the other half of the complex. The temple is situated about 60 km (37miles) north of Aswan.

Edfu is the largest temple of Horus. This temple is another evidence of the Ptolemaic Kingdom (237-57BC). This temple is 64 km (39miles) (124km, 77miles north of Aswan) north of Kom Ombo.

Kom Ombo Temple, Aswan
Kom Ombo Temple, Aswan

Edfu Temple Aswan
Edfu Temple, Aswan


You can visit either temple from Aswan on a day trip. They take 9-10 hours to visit.

Time Kom Ombo Temple: 06:00AM-09:00PM
Time Edfu: 06:00AM-05:00PM

Light & Sound Show starts from 05:00PM
Kom Ombo temple entrance Fee: 140 EGP adult; 70 EGP student with valid ID; No extra cost for camera.
Edfu temple entrance Fee: 180 EGP adult; 90 EGP student with a valid ID; No cost for camera.

How to Reach
If you are taking the Nile cruise, include these temples in the itinerary. You could add more temples that are well worth a visit.

Price starts from US$56.25
Private taxi sharing from Aswan: 100-130LE per person
Full Car rent 400-500 LE (they leave at 08:00 AM and cover Kom Ombo Temple, Crocodile Museum, Edfu, Esna, Khnum temple and head back)

Drivers follow the rural road on the eastern bank of the Nile. The narrow parallel two-lane road is an experience in its own. With the Nile River on one side and sugarcane fields on the other, you suddenly break into the golden desert leaving the river behind. The rural scenario is worth capturing in your memory.  

· Train from Kom Ombo to Edfu
Ave. Duration 54 min
Frequency every 2 hours
Estimated price 16.1EGP - 23.6EGP
Felucca: (2 nights) stop at Kom Ombo.  
Price: LE 3650

4. Temple of Khnum at Esna

This temple in Aswan is dedicated to Khnum, a god of the Greco-Roman times. Located in the present day Egyptian village of Esna, in ancient time Coptic Sne and Arabic Isna, the temple was constructed in Latopolis. There are several other deities in this temple like Neith and Heka. It is believed that this god with ram's head was the creator of mankind and moulded humans from the mud of the Nile on the potters’ wheel. The temple is known for its purity and there are some rules that must be observed while entering this place. Cut both toe and fingernails, remove other body hair, hands should be washed with natron (a natural occurring salt). The dressing material should be linen. Refrain from all sexual association for a few days.

Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Sun – Sat)
Entrance fee: 80 EGP adult; 40 EGP student. No Extra charge for camera.
Ticket Booth is located on the Nile River.

How to reach
You can reach this island in a motorboat. Local prices are applicable on spot.

5. Temple of Kalabsha and Nait El Wali Temple

The temple of Mandulis in Ancient Egypt was built at Bab al Kalabsha, south of Aswan on the west bank of the Nile. It was dedicated to the Lower Nubian Sun God. This is also a specimen from the Ptolemaic period. The temple is a spectacular eight-column hall. Beautiful inscriptions and motifs on the wall are suggestive of the life of the kings and their encounters with Gods and Goddesses. Panoramic view of the Lake Nasser is breathtaking and there are strategic places for photography. This temple in Aswan had a beautiful gateway, but the Egyptian government gifted it to the Germans who helped them to shift the temple structure in 1977. You can find the gate at the Berlin Museum.

The ancient temple was built out of cutting the rock by Ramses II. It means the house of holy men. This temple too was relocated when the dam was built in Aswan. Now it is close to the high grounds near the Temple of Kalabsha.

Time: 08:00AM-05:00PM

Price: Adult LE60, Students LE30, incl Beit Al Wali & Temple of Kertassi

The temple can be reached by a motorboat

Price LE: 60 (1 hr.)

If you want to visit this temple independently, then it requires a lot of changing.

· Take a micro bus from Aswan main street, the Nile Street) to Sil. Tell the driver to drop you at Sil.

Fare: 1EGP

· Take another microbus from El Sadelale (High dam). Get off at the outer end of the dam.
Fare: 2EGP

· The temple is at the other side of the dam. Foreigners require special tourist tickets to cross the dam.
Fare: 30EGP

No one is allowed to walk over to the dam and the visitor section is somewhere in the middle. So, hitchhike. Police cars gladly offer lifts free of cost. You can look around the dam. It’s beautiful.

· Once at the other end of the dam buy your tickets.
Price: 40EGP

The heritage trip to the temples of Aswan is a walk back in times. The beauty of the structures and the landscape leaves you overwhelmed with a gamut of experiences. This small city needs at least a 3-4 days of attention to exploring. Enjoy your trip!


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