A masterpiece of Egyptian architecture, Abu Simbel is a set of two temples hewn out of rock cliffs and constructed for Ramses 2 and his wife Nefertari.
The Great Temple Architectural layout
- Dedicated to Ramses 2 and a three other gods, Amun, Ra and Ptah
- A Solstices occurs twice a year on or about February 20-22nd and October 20-22nd when the rays from the sun enter the front of the temple and bathe the statues of the gods 200 feet inside the temple with light
- The forecourt or terrace which fronted the temple contained two tanks for the ablutions of the priests.
- The temple's facade is dominated by four enormous seated statues of the Pharaoh (each over 20 meters or 67 feet high), although one has been damaged since ancient times. Beneath the legs of Ramses 2, his family members dwarfed by him, are presented in dramatically smaller statues of his mother Muttuy, Queen Nefertari and Prince Amonherkhepshef.
The facade is topped by a row of 22 baboons, their arms raised in the air, supposedly worshipping the rising sun.
- On the southern side of this terrace, stood a chapel of Thoth
- On the north stood a small sun-chapel
- The entrance - above it a figure of the falcon headed god Ra is shown worshipped by flanking images of Ramses 2
- A Grand Hall which is 57 feet high and 52 feet wide and was cut from the rock.
It is supported with eight pillars with statues of Ramses 2 with the shape of Osiris. The statues on the north side of the hall wear the Double Crown,
while those on the south the White Crown of upper Egypt.
The walls are decorated in relief with scenes showing the Pharaoh in battle, including the great battle of Kadesh.
- To either side of the Grand Hall are smaller rooms,
three to the South and three to the North, these rooms were used for festivals related to the Pharaohs Jubilee.
- Beyond the Grand Hall is the second hypostyle hall supported by four flowered pillars. Scenes in this hall show the Pharaoh and his wife, Nefertari making offerings to Amun and Ra.
- Three doors lead from the second hall into a vestibule,
- Finally within the innermost part of the rock-cut temple the sanctuary has three chapels,
the central one containing the cult images of Ramses 2 himself, Horakhty of Heliopolis, Ptah of Memphis and Amun of Thebes.
The Small Temple was probably completed ahead of the Great Temple and is dedicated to
Ramses' 2 favorite wife, Nefertari Anf the cow goddess Hathor
The Small Temple Architectural layout
- The facade of the temple is a receding Pylon, with six 10-meter-high (33 feet) rock-cut statues - two of Ramses 2 and one of Nefertari on either side of the doorway.
The statues of Nefertari are the same height as those of Ramses 2, which is unusual. There are cobras protecting the temple door.
- Hypostyle hall - It is cut from the rock, and supported by six pillars bearing the head of the goddess Hathor.
The eastern wall bears images of Ramses 2 in battle. Other wall scenes show Ramses 2 and Nefertari offering sacrifices to the gods.
- Three doors lead from the hall into a vestibule, with images of Hathor cow framed in reeds
- The sanctuary has the divine cow Hathor emerging from the rear rock wall protecting Ramses 2,