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Egypt's sunniest southern city and ancient frontier town located about 80 miles south of Luxor, has a distinctively African atmosphere. Its ancient Egyptian name was Syene. Small enough to walk around and graced with the most beautiful setting on the Nile, the pace of life is slow and relaxing.
Aswan is a beautiful city located in Upper Egypt. It was once the gate to Africa and an important ancient trade center. Aswan today offers beautiful natural scenery in addition to numerous sights of interest. Days can be spent strolling up and down the broad Corniche watching the sailboats etch the sky with their tall masts, or sitting in floating restaurants listening to Nubian music and eating freshly caught fish.
The Philae Temple complex was constructed during the 3rd century BC. Once located on Philae Island, it was threatened by flooding when the High Dam was built. With international donor assistance, the temples were moved and reconstructed on Agilka Island, where they can be viewed today. This beautiful temple complex, and the main temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis.
Aswan High Dam
The world famous Aswan High Dam was an engineering miracle built in the 1960's. The dam is 11,811 feet long, 3,215 feet wide and 364 feet high. It provides irrigation and electricity for the entire country of Egypt along with the old Aswan Dam. The High Dam created a 30% increase in the agricultural land in Egypt. The electricity producing capability of the dam doubled Egypt 's supply.
Sound and Light Shows in Aswan
The Sound and Light Show of the Temple of Philae was inaugurated in 1985. Spectators are taken on a Nile cruise and listen to how the temple was rescued and restored.
The show describes the history of Aswan , the grandeur of Nubia and the sacredness of the Nile. The show is presented in English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Egyptian.
The Aga Khan Mausoleum
This pink granite mausoleum in Aswan was built for the spiritual leader of the Ismailis, a Shiite in 1950.
The Aga Khan was educated in Europe and succeeded his father in 1885 to become the 48th Imam. His son succeeded him upon his death in 1957, and then by his grandson, Karim, Aga Khan IV. Members of this sect consider themselves to be the direct spiritual descendants of the Fatimids.
The Granite Quarries provided much of the red granite used for ancient temples and colossi. Located in the Northern Quarry, The Unfinished Obelisk (42 meters/138 feet in length) lies in the same place it was discarded thousands of years ago, when a crack was discovered as it was being carved.
Most of the granite used in the ancient Egyptian tombs, temples and obelisks came from the quarries in the Aswan area. Around these quarries are many inscriptions, many of which describe successful quarrying projects. Of particular interest is the Unfinished Obelisk located in the Northern Quarry. Because it has a large crack it was never used. It would have weighed over 2.3 million pounds!!!
The Kalabsha Temple was moved in 1970 to its present location in Nubia.
It was the largest freestanding temple in Egyptian Nubia and the temple is typical of the classical Ptolemaic period with pylons, courtyard, hypostyle hall and three room sanctuary. The courtyard inside the pylon once had columns on three sides.
There is also a small chapel, which can be reached from stairs in the first chamber, which then descend from the roof into the chapel set inside the wall. As you leave the temple, be sure to note the rear wall with images of Mandulis with his vulture-feathered cloak.