Exploring Tourism in Egypt
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Abu Simbel



Abu Simbel is perhaps the most recognized monument of ancient Egypt. The two temples built for the pharaoh Ramesses II have been attracting visitors since Victorian times. Almost as impressive as the monument itself is the story of its restoration in the 1960's. The temples had to be dismantled and physically moved 60 meters up a cliff where they were reassembled in the exact same relation to each other and the sun. Egyptian Government secured the support of UNESCO and launched a world wide appeal. During the salvage operation which began in 1964 and continued until 1968, the two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they had been built more than 3,000 years before. Here they were reassembled, in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain. Most of the joins in the stone have now been filled by antiquity experts, but inside the temples it is still possible to see where the blocks were cut. 
A daily sound and light show is a highlight not to be missed. If you can make it you should also see the Abu Simbel Festival which takes place twice a year in February and October. Natural sunlight and architectural brilliance combine to make the inner sanctum of the temple light up. It's a breathtaking sight and makes the music, dance and food that accompanies the festival pale in comparison.
Abu Simbel lies near the Egyptian border with Sudan. The closest major town is Aswan. You can get to Abu Simbel by plane from either Cairo or Aswan. There are also daily buses and tours from Aswan to Abu Simbel. Perhaps the best way to visit Abu Simbel is by boat. There are plenty of cruises starting in Aswan that range from 3 - 5 days.

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