The two temples at Abu Simbel are best known for their dazzling magnificence and their historic relocation from their original setting on a sandstone cliff near the Nile River. The temples were originally carved out of sandstone over three millenniums ago, during the reign of the great Pharaoh Ramesses II and were dedicated to him and the Egyptian gods.
When the Egyptian government were constructing the Aswan High Dam in the 60’s, the temples faced submergence under the waters of the resulting Lake Nassar, and the government sought the assistance of UNESCO and the international community to help them avoid this potential disaster. It was decided to relocate the temples to a new site, where they would be safe – a monumental undertaking, given the scale of these temples! The relocation included dismantling the two temples, moving them to their new location and then reassembling them in exactly the same form and relationship to each other and to the sun. In their new home they are surrounded by an artificial mountain to try and recreate their original setting. A photo exhibition of this historic relocation can be seen at the dome at Abu Simbel.