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Abu Simbel Sun Festival in Egypt

The inner sanctum of the temple remains in darkness throughout the year and sees the stream of natural sunlight only twice a year

Abu Simbel Sun Festival
Abu Simbel Sun Festival
Abu Simbel Sun Festival

The Sun Temple in Abu Simbel is a magnificent structure of the Pharaohs of Egypt. Twice a year it becomes the venue for the Sun Festival—on the 22nd of February and exactly eight months later, on the 22nd of October. The sun’s rays illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple on these days. This incredible phenomenon gives a spectacular sight: the light which streams into the complex reflects on the statue of Ramses II and the Sun God’s seated statues illuminating the entire place highlighting the brilliant architecture. It’s interesting, but the sun illuminates statues of Amun-Re, Re-Herakhte, and Ramses the god, whilst the statue of Ptah, the god of darkness, remains in the shadows. From early morning crowds of people assemble into the temple to watch the sunrise as it slowly creeps through the inner Hypostyle Hall and through to the sanctuary. Tourists from all across come to the much-celebrated Sun Festival. This unusual phenomenon proves the immense knowledge of astronomy and technology that ancient Egyptians applied for making such a construction.

Practical info

When does the Abu Simbel Sun Festival take place?

Twice annually, on the 22nd of February and on the 22nd of October, the Abu Simbel Sun Festival takes place. Within the sanctum of the temple, the rays of the sun shine on the statues of Ramses II, the Sun God, and Amun-Re. The festival is a testament to the incredible knowledge and technology of ancient Egyptians in astronomy. It is an exceptional event that is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over the world. Show more

Where does the sunlight fall during the Sun Festival in Abu Simbel?

At the Sun Festival of Abu Simbel, the sunlight pours through the Hypostyle Hall and the Holy of Holies of the temple. The statues of Ramses II, the Sun God, and Amun-Re are illuminated, while the statue of the god of darkness, Ptah, remains in the shadows. Tourists from all over the world gather to witness this marvel. It is a one-of-a-kind event that attracts millions of people every year. Show more

How did ancient Egyptians construct the Sun Temple?

In honor of the Gods Amun-Re, Re-Herakhte, and Ptah, the Sun Temple of Abu Simbel was built, with Ramses II's statue representing Amun-Re. The temple was constructed out of mountain rock and took around two decades to complete. The entrance of the temple features four colossal statues of Ramses II, each with a height of 20 meters. The inner hall remains shrouded in darkness throughout the year, with the sunlight only reaching it twice a year on the days of the Sun Festival. Show more

What is the significance of the statues illuminated by the sunlight during the Sun Festival?

The sun-lit statues that comprise Ptah, Amun-Re, and the Pharaoh Ramses II are symbolic of the temple's importance. It also displays the ancient Egyptians' astronomical knowledge by illuminating these statues with precise calculations. Furthermore, the fact that the statue of Ptah remains in darkness demonstrates the temple's specific design for this unique phenomenon. The Sun Festival representing this intellectual and scholarly aspect makes it a remarkable event the world honors and celebrates. Show more

What are some other unique features of the Sun Festival at Abu Simbel?

Along with the extraordinary 'solar alignment' that lights up the temple sanctum during the Sun Festival, there are many other unique things to experience at the event. Visitors can enjoy cultural activities such as traditional music, dancing, and other events. The event highlights the past's accuracy and precision in astronomy, and its historical and archaeological elements can give the world a newfound connection to the past. It is a remarkable undertaking overflowing with information, history, and tourism. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin