Cairo, Oct 22 (The Eastern Herald) Monday marked a rare, twice-yearly solar alignment in Egypt when the sun’s rays reach the inner sanctum of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel and briefly illuminate the stone face of the Pharaoh Ramses II – and hundreds of tourists were on hand to witness the spectacle.
The event has taken place at dawn for over 3,000 years each February 22, the King’s birthday, and on October 22, the day marking his coronation, reports Efe news.
Monday also marked the 50th anniversary of the completion of a far more modern feat of engineering on the west bank of the Nile.
During the 1960s, the entire Abu Simbel temple, its massive outer statues standing 20 metres high and the sandstone cliff in which it was carved were all moved piece by piece to higher ground, saving them from being submerged in the rising waters behind the newly-built Aswan High Dam.
Though Abu Simbel now sits just beside the reservoir, the temple was rebuilt at exactly the right orientation so that the sun continues to shine on Ramses II, a fitting tribute to one of the greatest examples of ancient Egyptian art.
Located over 850 km south of the capital Cairo, and only around 30 km from the present-day border with Sudan, Abu Simbel was “rediscovered” in 1813.