Aswan is a beautiful and relaxed city towards the South of Egypt. Much of what you will see here is in some way connected with the momentous damming of the Nile – be it the new location of the Temple of Philae, the High Dam itself, understanding Nubian history and relocation, or sailing the Nile River by felucca.
The damming of the Nile itself occurred during the 1960s to control the annual flooding of the Nile and create Lake Nasser. The project took most of a decade and was perhaps one of the most ambitious modern engineering projects to have been undertaken in the Middle East. The scale of the engineering works is pretty impressive and standing at the top of the dam you will enjoy sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding arid desert scenery.
The temple of Philae is an outstanding temple complex dedicated to the goddess Isis and dates to the Ptolemaic age of about 690 BCE. As with Abu Simbel this temple was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt on higher ground to avoid it being flooded by the damming of the Nile.
The unfinished obelisk was was ordered by Pharaoh Hatshepsut (1508–1458 BC), and had it been finished it would have been the largest obelisk around at over 40 meters. It seems that its creators started the work of carving it out of the bedrock but the stone became cracked and the project was abandoned. Today it gives fascinating insights into ancient Egyptian engineering and stone cutting techniques.
Aswan is also interesting for gaining an understanding into the Nubian community of Egypt. The Nubians are an ethnic group from Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt and have lived in the area of the Nile for thousands of years, and many were forcefully relocated when the damming of the Nile flooded their ancestral homeland. To understand more about this community and culture you can visit the excellent Nubian museum set in a beautiful building worth seeing in its own right, and also visit a Nubian village where we can organize an insider tour of the village, meet some locals, and enjoy a delicious home hospitality all of which will help you understand how this community lives today, and how community life has changed since the Nile was dammed.
We can also arrange felucca rides at Aswan, where you can visit some of the Nile islands for a scenic and relaxing tea.
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