giza plateau view

The Giza Plateau (Arabic: جيزة بلاتي‎) is a plateau in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, site of the Fourth Dynasty Giza Necropolis, which includes the Great Pyramids of KhufuKhafre and Menkaure, the Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex.

The Giza Plateau is a plateau in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, site of the Fourth Dynasty Giza Necropolis, which includes the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, the Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex.

The plateau is elevated approximately 60 meters above sea-level

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Built to honour the goddess Isis, this was the last temple built in the classical Egyptian style. Construction began around 690 BC, and it was one of the last outposts where the goddess was worshipped. The cult of Isis continued here until at least AD 550. The boat leaves you near the Kiosk of Nectanebo, the oldest part, and the entrance to the temple is marked by the 18m-high first pylon with reliefs of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos smiting enemies.

In the central court of the Temple of Isis, the mammisi (birth house) is dedicated to Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. Successive pharaohs reinstated their legitimacy as the mortal descendants of Horus by taking part in rituals celebrating the Isis legend and the birth of her son Horus in the marshes. The second pylon leads to a hypostyle hall, with superb column capitals. Note also the reuse of the temple as a Christian church, with crosses carved into the older hieroglyph reliefs, and images of the Egyptian gods carefully defaced. Beyond lie three vestibules, leading into the Inner Sanctuary of Isis. Two granite shrines stood here, one containing a gold statue of Isis and another containing the barque in which the statue travelled, but these were long ago moved to Florence and Paris, and only the stone pedestal for the barque remains, inscribed with the names of Ptolemy III and his wife, Berenice. Take a side door west out of the hypostyle hall to the Gate of Hadrian where there is an image of the god Hapi, sitting in a cave at the First Cataract, representing the source of the river Nile.

East of the second pylon is the delightful Temple of Hathor, decorated with reliefs of musicians (including an ape playing the lute) and Bes, the god of childbirth. South of this is the elegant, unfinished pavilion by the water’s edge, known as the Kiosk of Trajan (‘Pharaoh’s Bed’), perhaps the most famous of Philae’s monuments and one that was frequently painted by Victorian artists, whose boats were moored beneath it.

The whole complex was moved from its original location on Philae Island, to its new location on Agilkia Island, after the flooding of Lake Nasser. A major multinational Unesco team relocated Philae, and a number of other temples that now dot the shores of Lake Nasser. You can see the submerged original island a short distance away, punctuated by the steel columns used in the moving process.

Don’t miss the sound and light show at night, the least cheesy of the sound and light ‘extravaganzas’. On your feet, look out for the extremely creative guards who will do all in their power to get in your photos, or to point out the hieroglyphs that you can quite clearly see yourself, all for some baksheesh (tip)!


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In a country that’s home to some of the most ancient structures on earth, the city of Abydos is a standout destination for lovers of history, hieroglyphs and architecture. That’s because this city is one of the nation’s most historic—and home to perhaps the most well-preserved temple in the country. 

Travelers to this Middle Egypt destination can examine the exquisite reliefs of King List at the Temple of Seti. These finely-detailed carvings are some of the best kept in all of Egypt and the temple’s off-the-beaten-path vibe means it’s easy to explore without bumping into tons of other tourists. 

Archeologists say the carvings on the temple’s exterior are worth checking out, but it’s the interior reliefs that really showcase the craftsmanship of early artists. Seti temple, which is dedicated to the god of the underworld and afterlife, is an essential stop for anyone traveling to Luxor.

At an undetermined date, a great clearance of temple offerings had been made and a modern discovery of a chamber into which they were gathered has yielded the fine ivory carvings and the glazed figures and tiles that show the splendid work of the first dynasty. A vase of Menes with purple hieroglyphs inlaid into a green glaze and tiles with relief figures are the most important pieces found. The noble statuette of Cheops in ivory, found in the stone chamber of the temple, gives the only portrait of this great pharaoh.

The temple was rebuilt entirely on a larger scale by Pepi I in the sixth dynasty. He placed a great stone gateway to the temenos, an outer temenos wall and gateway, with a colonnade between the gates. His temple was about 40 × 50 ft (12 x 15 m) inside, with stone gateways front and back, showing that it was of the processional type. In the eleventh dynasty Mentuhotep I added a colonnade and altars. Soon after, Mentuhotep II, who unified the two lands of Egypt, entirely rebuilt the temple, laying a stone pavement over the area, about 45 ft (14 m) square and added subsidiary chambers. Soon thereafter in the twelfth dynasty, Senusret I laid massive foundations of stone over the pavement of his predecessor. A great temenos was laid out enclosing a much larger area and the new temple itself was about three times the earlier size. 


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Abu Simbel is

  1. a)     a small village 280km south of Aswan and 40km north of the Sudanese border;
  2. b)     a former Nubian village of the same name on the Nile in Southern Egypt which was inundated by Lake Nasser during the creation of the Aswan High Dam (which also involved the relocation of 100,000 Nubians to parts of Egypt and Sudan);
  3. c)     the site of two temples built by Rameses II between 1274 and 1244 B.CE, now moved to higher ground, adjoining the present-day village of Abu Simbel and overlooking Lake Nasser.


The airport was built to bring visitors to the monuments. A road runs from the airport through the village main street (Ramsis) to the temples, passing a petrol station, fire station, hospital, market square and commercial banks. A courtesy shuttle runs from the airport directly to the monuments.

Hotel locations and monuments

Abu Simbel has five hotels, all situated on or near Ramsis road. A further one (Tuya) isalmost completed.

As the airport road bends to the right across the first main bridge and joins Ramsis, it passes a petrol station on the right. Set back from the road, Abu Simbel Tourist Village (known locally as Hotel Abbas, with 30 rooms) is opposite the petrol station, offering the village’s cheapest accommodation.

After passing the new hospital, a turning to the left opposite the fire station marks the northern edge of the village and is the location of Eskaleh Nubian EcoLodge, a boutique hotel built from mudbricks with traditional methods and offering about six rooms.

A few yards after the fire station, the Nobaleh Ramsis Hotel on the right-hand side of the main road reasonable rooms at a modest price and marks the beginning of the village proper. To the left is the market square and souk. A few yards further on is the village centre, a popular gathering spot on Friday evenings. There are several shops and small cafes in this area.

The road passes across a long bridge with fishing boats to the right and a brightly painted frieze with viewing portals. On the far side is a junction with several commercial banks where currency can be exchanged. There are a couple of small cafes here as a road forking to the right leads to the Seti Abu Simbel Lake Resort Hotel (6 suites and 136 rooms). The elegant Seti hotel is on one of two promontories, the other being occupied by the more functional Nefertari and the monuments complex.

The main road continues on the left fork on a gentle hill to the monuments. At the top of the rise, a long access road off to the right leads to the Nefertari Hotel. There are two long bays of market stalls selling tourist items. Behind the beginning of the market stalls, facing the Nefertari, is a small café selling items such as water and ice cream at tourist prices.

Passing through the entrance to the Abu Simbel monuments area, a small exhibition area is viewable just before the ticket office. There is a circular path leading from the ticket office, at the rear of the monuments, around the two artificial mountains which house the main temple, dedicated to Ra-Herakhte and Rameses II, and a smaller one dedicated to Hathor and Rameses’ wife. Nefertari. Both temples face outwards to Lake Nasser and are not overlooked by the mainland.

The 66-foot (20-metre) seated figures of Ramses are set against the recessed face of the cliff, two on either side of the entrance to the main temple. Carved around their feet are small figures representing Ramses’ children, his queen, Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy (Mut-tuy, or Queen Ti). Graffiti inscribed on the southern pair by Greek mercenaries serving Egypt in the 6th century BCE have provided important evidence of the early history of the Greek alphabet. The temple itself, dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte, consists of three consecutive halls extending 185 feet (56 metres) into the cliff, decorated with more Osiride statues of the king and with painted scenes of his purported victory at the Battle of Kadesh. On two days of the year (about February 22 and October 22), the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the whole length of the temple and illuminate the shrine in its innermost sanctuary.


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