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7 Forgotten Medieval Wonders of the World -> The Great Temple of Abu Simbel

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel

This is the great temple of Abu Simbel, dedicated to the glory of pharao Ramses II. Though the temple is officially dedicated to the triad Amon-Ra, Ptah and Ra-Harakhte, its front is dominated by four gigantic statues of the great pharaoh himself. He had this temple built in this otherwise desolate area on the actual site of a much older shrine of a local personification of the god Horus.

The colossi of the king, wearing the characteristic nemes headcloth and double crown (of upper and lower Egypt), are each 20 metres high, while the facade is more than 35 metres wide and 30 metres high. The king is accompanied by some of his wives, sons and daughters who appear in much smaller size beside his legs. Right above the entrance stands a figure of the god Re-Harakhte in a small niche. The top of the facade is crowned by a row of baboons.

The central entrance leads into a large hall with massive pillars fronted by Osiris figures of the king. The temple's orientation is arranged in such a way that twice every year on 22 February and 22 October the earliest sun-rays shine on the back wall of the innermost chamber, thus illuminating the statues of the four gods seated there.

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