Aswan Journals

Frontier of the Pharoahs

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An October 2007 trip to Aswan by Liam Hetherington

Philae Temple Complex Photo, Aswan, Egypt More Photos
Quote: Although located 320km north of the modern Sudanese border, Aswan's greatness stems from being the historic frontier between ancient Nubia and Egypt.

Frontier of the Pharoahs

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Overview

Philae Temple Complex Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
Aswan has long been Egypt's gateway to Africa. Situated near the historic First Cataract of the Nile, the rapids beyond which uninterrupted sailing was impossible, it formed a natural limit to Pharaonic rule. South, the darker-skinned Nubians stood guard over the lucrative trade routes into the heart of the continent. It was in the environs of Aswan that gold, slaves, treasure and exotic animals were imported to Egypt, for transportation upriver. Aswan then was pretty much the world's first 'border post'. Although modern Egypt now stretches well beyond the High Dam, Aswan still owes its glories to its position. The ...Read More

Salah al-Din

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Restaurant

Ten for Dinner at Salah al-Din Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
A floating restaurant on the River Nile? That's got to be expensive right? Well no. I was very impressed with the prices at the Salah al-Din; almost as impressed as I was with the setting. The Corniche el-Nil is the prestige road of Aswan, a smart thoroughfare lined with banks that follows the bank of the Nile. It is only on this road and its namesake in Luxor that you will find that most un-Egyptian of objects, the traffic light. More amazingly, the drivers obey them! It is on this central stretch of road in Aswan that you will see the entrance to Salah al-Din. The restaurant is built down the bank, with at least two floors. But the real treat is at the bottom, wher...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 17, 2008

Nubian Museum

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Attraction

Nubian Museum Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
If only all museums could be like the Nubian Museum. It is a microcosm of Aswan itself - neat, approachable, and displaying itself to best effect. It is also an indispensible guide to understanding Aswan and the relationship between Egypt and its southern neighbour Nubia. First impressions are favourable. It is sited on a rise at the southern tip of town just past the Old Cataract Hotel (E£20 in a taxi, or a thirty-minute walk from the heart of town - I particularly recommend the stroll back in the cool of dusk as the shadows lengthen across the Nile). Opened in 1999 the Museum is a stunning-looking low pink granite building, fusing the most up-to-date techniques with traditional Nubian...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 17, 2008

Nubian Museum
downtown
Aswan, Egypt

Abu Simbel: Sun Temple of Ramses II

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Attraction

An Insignificant Mortal Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
Getting to Abu Simbel is not easy. The great rock-hewn temple complex of Ramses II and his favoured wife Nefertari is located 175 miles south of Aswan, a mere 25 miles from the Sudanese border. That's a lot of very sparse terrain to cover. The logistics involved meant that, when faced with the option of visiting the site only four of our company of nine took it up. But I knew of Abu Simbel, and the very idea of visiting Aswan and of not making the effort to go and see one of the most famous ancient monuments in the world was not one that I was prepared to consider for long. Hell, if necessary I would have made the journey on my own! There are two ways of visiting Abu Simbel. For ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 17, 2008

Abu Simbel Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
Adjacent to the larger Sun Temple of Ramses II stands the temple to Hathor, goddess of love and beauty, of his wife Queen Nefertari. Nefertari was but one of the pharoah's wives, though clearly his favourite. Reputedly of Nubian descent she has been remembered as being very beautiful ('Nefer' in ancient Egyptian meant 'beautiful'). It is no susprise that here she is identified with the cow goddess Hathor, as shown by the cow-horn crown on the depictions outside the temple. Here six figures grace the facade, three each side of the entrance, depicting Nefertari, Hathor... and of cou...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 17, 2008

Philae Temple Complex

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Attraction

Philae Temple Complex Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
The Temple of Isis at Philae is a modern complex. Well, compared to many of the other sites you will visit in Egypt it is. Its remains date from the period of Ptolemaic and later Roman rule, and hence were constructed at least a thousand years later than, say, Abu Simbel. These new interloper dynasties (hailing from Macedonia and Italy respectively) found it made sense to associate themselves with Egypt's indigenous pantheon to win over their new subjects. Of all the Egyptian gods and goddesses it was that of Isis, the loving and mysterious mother-goddess, that spread furthest thro...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 22, 2008

Philae Temple Complex
Agilkia Island near Aswan
Aswan, Egypt

A Nubian Feast

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Story/Tip

Dinner Is Served! Photo, Aswan, Egypt
Quote:
It had been arranged for us to travel upstream to Sehel Island on the Tuesday night. Sehel is home to a thriving Nubian community. Recognising that their culture is very different to that of the lighter-skinned Egyptians, the Nubians have taken to tourism big time. All along the Nile you will see Nubian felucca crew, musicians, and hotel staff well out of proportion to their actual population. Dinner trips to Sehel Island for a traditional Nubian meal are one facet, and probably one that you will be offered whilst in Aswan. The great thing here is that you will be dining with a local family, and so you are guaranteed that any money you spend will go directly into the community ra...Read More