Abu Simbel is a small village lying 280 km S of Aswan and only 40 km N of the border with Sudan. It is a very small settlement with very little to attract visitors other than its great temples for which it has become famous. Very few tourists linger for more than a few hours, although there are around 5 hotels to attract visitors to stay the night.
The temples at Abu Simbel were formerly located further down the hillside, facing the Nile in the same relative positions, but due to the rising waters of Lake Nasser, the original locations are now underwater. In the early 1960′s, each temple was carefully sawed into numbered stone cubes, moved uphill, and reassembled before the water rose.
The Great Temple of Ramses II was reassembled fronting a fake mountain, built like a domed basketball court, where the stone cubes occupy a section under the dome; from outside, the fake mountain looks like solid rock.
Archaeologists have concluded that the immense sizes of the statues in the Great Temple were intended to scare potential enemies approaching Egypt’s southern region, as they travelled down the Nile from out of Africa.
Abu Simbel is purely a sight seeing visit and is one of the pinnacle Egyptian tourist attractions. A trip to Abu Simbel is offered as a day excursion (short flight) from most Egyptian holiday destinations and often built into package holidays.