Aswan, Egypt - Stein Travel



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    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

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Welcome to Aswan

Aswan, the most southerly city and a popular holiday destination, has more of an African ambiance with its numerous Nubian inhabitants providing a difference in culture and custom. Although every bit as touristy as Luxor, Aswan and its inhabitants are far more laid-back and pleasant.

A picturesque city, its attraction as a holiday destination lies not so much in its historical sites, but in the peacefulness of a felucca cruise at sunset, a visit to the colourful market (Sharia el-Souq), or dinner at one of the floating restaurants on the Nile. Aswan is a perfect base to visit to the magnificent Sun Temple of Ramses II, Abu Simbel.


Language
Arabic is the official language although English and French are widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas.
Money

The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Visitors are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds to avoid additional exchange rate charges. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main tourist areas.

The two temples of Abu Simbel, the Temple of Ramses II and the temple of Hathor (the Sun God) dedicated to his wife Nefertari, were cut out of the sandstone cliffs more than 3,000 years ago. Not only are these temples among the most magnificent in the world, but also their removal and reconstruction are recorded as a major historical feat during the construction of the High Dam on Lake Nasser in the 1960s. The monuments were threatened with submersion, and after an appeal by UNESCO in co-operation with the Egyptian Government they were dismantled and reassembled exactly, about 197 feet (60m) higher up.

The intimidating sight that first greets the visitor at Abu Simbel is that of the four colossal statues guarding the entrance to the Grand Hall of the Temple of Ramses. The interior is highly decorated with relief paintings and is supported by eight statues of Ramses acting as giant pillars. Leading off the hall are painted sanctuaries and chambers. The Temple of Hathor is smaller and simpler, also with statues guarding the entrance and a manifestation of the Sun God portrayed above. It is aligned in such a way that the sun's rays reach inside to illuminate the statues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramesses II, and Re- Horakhty twice a year.

The Nubia Museum in Aswan is an excellent introduction to the history and culture of the Nubians. It contains a collection of artefacts from Nubia (the region approximately between Aswan and Khartoum in Sudan) and an exhibition of Nubian culture and crafts. It also portrays the history and people of the Nile Valley from ancient times until the present, the project of UNESCO to move monuments like Abu Simbel endangered by the High Dam on lake Nasser to higher ground, and a hall containing impressive statues and tombstones from the region.


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