Explore the Island of Philae
By Monserrat Gutierrez |
Philae is an archaeological site that houses great legends of Egyptian mythology. Learn about the ambitious conservation project for the area.
PHILAE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Herodotus, father of history, said that Philae, an archaeological site located south of Aswan, was “the Pearl of Egypt”, given its dreamy landscape among palm trees and rivers. This place is one of the most important demonstrations of cultural heritage rescue and conservation. During the past century, after the construction of the first Aswan dam, the site flooded, so it could only been seen sprouting from the water surface three months per year. The constant threat created by the construction of the second dam between Sudan and Egypt forced UNESCO to join forces with the government to prevent this important site from being lost underwater. Piece by piece, it was transported to Agilika island in the years between 1972 and 1980. It was a difficult task that had to be done in little time. DINKtravelers invites you to visit this magnificent site that UNESCO listed as World Heritage in 1979.
THE ISLAND OF TEMPLES
The only way you can get to Philae is by boat, but the combination of the Nile, the temple, the vegetation and the sky will delight your senses as you slowly advance toward your destination. When you get there, you’ll have before you a series of temples that were built in the course of three centuries before our era, during the XIII dynasty, in Nectanebo’s reign. The most iconic building is dedicated to the feminine Egyptian deity Isis; however, in order to get to it you’ll have to visit other areas first.
First you’ll cross Ptolemy’s Gate, where you’ll see a tall image of the pharaoh guided by Isis. Before them, you’ll find two lions made with pink granite. After that you’ll find the First Pylon (gate), which will guide you to the central towers and the inner courtyard. You’ll recognize them by the series of columns that decorate the space. Long ago, this area was full of chambers where priests performed a series of activities such as the elaboration of ointments.
Next you’ll go to the Birth House or Mammisi, a place where you’ll find a beautiful image of Isis holding a newborn Horus in her arms.
Following this, the Second Pylon will lead the way to the temple. Its height of 12 meters and its walls full of images will impress you. In one of them you’ll find the pharaoh making an offering of flowers, incense and water at the altar dedicated to the gods Horus, Nephtys, Osiris and Isis. Walk inside the temple until you reach the sanctuary of the House of Isis, a small chamber with two small windows.
WHAT TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN VISITING PHILAE
- Visiting hours: October-May 7:00 to 16:00hrs; June-September 7:00 to 17:00hrs
- Visit the site in the morning because the place gets crowded by 14:00hrs.
- Wear comfortable shoes because the terrain is a bit irregular.
- Go to the lights and sound show. It lasts one hour and, in it, the gods Isis and Osiris narrate their story. Enjoy this experience by hiring a tour (minimum cost of 27 USd per person) or go by yourself at the following performance hours: October-May 18:30, 19:45 and 20:45hrs; June-September 19:00, 20:15 and 21:30.