Home / Blog / The most things to do in Aswan – Egypt

The most things to do in Aswan – Egypt

The most things to do in Aswan – Egypt

Aswan is still and will always be a must-see tourist destination in Egypt, famous for its beautiful scenery along the Nile and the Nubian culture that is still a strong influence in southern Egypt. In spite of the concentration of tourists in Luxor around its many pharaonic monuments, Aswan provides a much more relaxed experience. It is the smallest of Egypt’s major touristic cities, but it also bears the distinctive mark of the more relaxed Nubian culture. People interested in pharaonic history can’t pass up Aswan because of the impressive places like Philae Temple, Aswan High Dam, Abu Simbel Temples and the Nubian Village. Here are some of the most incredible things you can do in Aswan:

  1. Learn about traditions, culture and clothing tips through visiting the Nubian Village

The Nubians people are very friendly and hospitable. They often invite guests into their houses to have a cup of the traditional drink “Karkade”. The houses are painted with bright colors, with floors made of sand and some of the rooms have no roofs. Aswan is one of the driest places in the world so there is no need for protection against rain. Traditional crafts are often displayed, such as the unique “Shamsi” bread with a homegrown baking technique. You can visit Aswan’s Souq which is a colorful bazaar and is known as the cheapest place to buy souvenirs in Aswan. The bazaar has various Egyptian and African goods such as perfumes, peanuts, henna powder, spices and dried hibiscus flowers “Karkade”. There are also T-shirts and custom made Ancient Egyptian styled souvenirs. In side alleys, you can find traders selling Nubian artifacts such as skullcaps, talismans, baskets, Sudanese swords, carpets, and stuffed animals like crocodiles.

In Aswan, you will have the opportunity to not only eat delicious home cooked Nubian food, but you will also learn the culture and history of its residents. They have to move away from some of their old village because they were located nearby the Cornishe of Elephantine Island. Nubians used to live in the valley of the Nile south of Aswan, but in 1960, the High Dam construction caused flooding for many Nubian villages, so the Nubian had to relocate in Gharb Aswan near the Tomb of the Nobles.

  • Explore the Ancient Temple of Philae, where the Egyptian God Horus is revered

The Philae Temple has an equally enchanting location, downstream of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser and mentioned by multiple ancient writers in their works. The island temple contains multiple ruins and rocks, inscribed with the names and titles of Amenhotep III, Ramesses II, Psamtik II, Apries, and Amasis II, together with memorials of the later Macedonian and Roman rulers of Egypt. It magnificently is a crossroad of the different eras in Egypt’s cultural and religious history.

Upon entrance, the First Pylon leads into the main temple area, where you can admire the huge relief depicting the Egyptian king Dionysos grasping a band of enemies by the hair and raising his club to smite them, with Gods Isis and Hathor on the left. A grand sight to witness indeed. One more interesting thing to note would be Napoleon’s inscription on the central doorway, commemorating his campaign in 1799. Within the main courtyard, make sure to check out the Birth House, where epic scenes from the childhood of Horus, including Horus as a falcon and Isis suckling Horus in the swamps, are inscribed. The entire Philae Temple contains endless ancient wonders and sculptures, not only limited to Ancient Egypt but also its Greco, Macedonian and even French links. The temple is an awe-inspiring sight to see, and cannot be missed!

Do visit the museum located on the island, where a mummified Ram of Khnum, one of Egypt’s earliest deities, is displayed. Artifacts dating back to pre-dynastic times have also been found on Elephantine and are showcased in the museum. Furthermore, the entire island is like an extended live museum in itself. The oldest ruins still standing on the island are a granite step pyramid from the third dynasty and a small shrine, built for the local sixth-dynasty monarch, Hekayib. A rare calendar, known as the Elephantine Calendar, and one of the oldest nilometers in Egypt, last reconstructed in Roman times, is also located on the island.

  • Visit the Elephantine Island in the middle of the Nile which has multiple ruins and temples to discover

The Elephantine is the largest island in the Aswan archipelago. Located opposite the Corniche, the island derived its name from historic ivory trading. In Ancient Egyptian times, the island had a fort that stood at Egypt’s southern border with Nubia, making it an excellent defensive site for a city and a natural cargo transfer point for river trade. Elephantine was also an important stone quarry, providing granite materials that is transported widely within Egypt to be used in monuments and buildings. With such rich historical significance, the island is a must-visit for Ancient Egypt enthusiasts!

Do visit the museum located on the island, where a mummified Ram of Khnum, one of Egypt’s earliest deities, is displayed. Artifacts dating back to pre-dynastic times have also been found on Elephantine and are showcased in the museum. Furthermore, the entire island is like an extended live museum in itself. The oldest ruins still standing on the island are a granite step pyramid from the third dynasty and a small shrine, built for the local sixth-dynasty monarch, Hekayib. A rare calendar, known as the Elephantine Calendar, and one of the oldest nilometers in Egypt, last reconstructed in Roman times, is also located on the island.

The museum itself is also a work of art. Its architecture reflects the traditional character of the Nubian architecture, thereby winning the Agha-Khan Award of Architecture in 2001. You can also visit the beautiful garden in the museum, where there are waterfalls, palm trees, flowers, and climbing bushes, spread around natural rocks. There is also an amphitheatre for local and international music and dance performances.

  • Learn about Nubian history at one of Egypt’s best museums “Nubian Museum”

The locale of Aswan originally belonged not to Ancient Egypt (before it was conquered), but to a kingdom known as Nubia or the “Land of Gold” in ancient times. The Nubian kingdom was located south of Ancient Egypt and as one of the indigenous peoples of the region, it had a rich history.

To preserve this crucial and ancient heritage, after the construction of Aswan’s High Dam, the Egyptian government appealed to the UNESCO, kick starting an immense international plan to excavate and record hundreds of sites. These precious materials were thereby preserved and showcased in a museum in Aswan to exhibit the unique Nubian heritage. Multiple temples on the island such as the ones at Abu Simbel and Philae were also disassembled and reconstructed on higher grounds.

Construction of the museum is a work of art. Its architecture reflects the traditional character of the Nubian architecture, thereby winning the Agha-Khan Award of Architecture in 2001. You can also visit the beautiful garden in the museum, where there are waterfalls, palm trees, flowers, and climbing bushes, spread around natural rocks. There is also an amphitheatre for local and international music and dance performances.

Thereby, the Aswan High Dam possesses extremely significant historical, political and environmental connotations, making it one of the most visited sites for those who come to Aswan. It has reshaped the city and up till today, plays an important role in the development of Egypt’s hydro-electricity sector and agriculture.

  • Make a trip to the Aswan High Dam, one of the most controversial projects in recent history

The creation of the Aswan High Dam and its counterpart, the man-made Lake Nasser, was a project that received much debate. Culturally, it destroyed many traditional Nubian villages and temples, while multiple artifacts were disturbed and had to be relocated, Temple of Abu Simbel was one of many.

Environmentally, the annual flood of the Nile which provided extremely fertile soil for farmers downstream which the dam stopped. This resulted in the need for fertilizers to grow crops, which the expense damaged the livelihoods of farmers. This controversy was intensified with construction of the dam being aided by the Soviets in the Cold War, where Nasser was trying to champion Arab nationalism in opposition to American influence in the region.

Thereby, the Aswan High Dam possesses extremely significant historical, political and environmental connotations, making it one of the most visited sites for those who come to Aswan. It has reshaped the city and up till today, plays an important role in the development of Egypt’s hydro-electricity sector and agriculture.

  • Prepare to be blown away by the magnificence of Abu Simbel Temples

These temples are one of the world’s most incredible monuments, and Egypt’s second most visited touristic site, the Pyramids of Giza being on the top of the list. The temples were relocated in the 1960s and that was a historic event. At that time, the temples were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser when the High Dam was constructed. Relocation of the Temples  was successful and they were dismantled to a spot above the cliff where they had been built. The more famous of the two temples is dedicated to Ramses II and the smaller one to his favorite wife Nefertari. The Temples were built by Ramses II in the 13th century BC. The huge facade of Ramses II temple represents four colossal seated figures of Ramses. The facade is 119 feet wide, 100 feet wide and each statue is 67 feet high. Door of the facade leads to the interior of the temple which is a 185 feet long man-made rock cave leading to a series of halls and rooms. The most interesting feature about the Temple of Abu-Simbel is the oriented construction. The magical thing about the temples is that twice a year, the morning sun rays shine through the length of the inner temple cave and light up the statues of the four Gods at the end of the cave.

By joining  us at the 4th conference on “Conservation of Architectural Heritage (CAH)”, you can visit all of these magical places and museums. CAH will be held on a Nile cruise sailing from Aswan to Luxor, Egypt from the 31st Jan to 2nd Feb 2020.

For registeration and any inquiries please check this link: https://www.ierek.com/events/cah4th#introduction

About admin

Check Also

The City of Pisa and its Architectural Identity

Pisa, the capital city of the Province of Pisa, is located in Tuscany, central Italy. The city ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *