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Sightseein - Philae Temple Complex

Philae Temple Complex
Open: daily 7 am - 6 pm in summer, 7 am - 5 pm in winter.


Philae Temple, a Ptolemaic temple complex dedicated to Isis, was built on the island of Philae, and is considered one of the three best preserved Ptolemaic temples in Egypt besides those of Edfu and Dendera.

After the construction of the Old Aswan Dam, the island of Philae was partially submerged in the water for up to eight months a year, and with the completing of the New Dam it would have completely disappeared beneath the waters of Lake Nasser. UNESCO and the Egyptian Antiquities Organization undertook a unique operation, where the island of Agilika, 150 metres to the north, was transformed into an exact model of Philae Island, and the Temple of Isis, the Temple of Hathor, and Trajan's Kiosk were dismantled and reassembled again with every block assigned a number and its position noted. In 1980, Philae was once again opened to the public. Philae Island, now totally submerged, is however, still known as Philae Temple.

The Temple of Isis was built in the Ptolemaic period (332-330 BCE), and was the foremost sanctity of the popular cult of Isis and Osiris. Antiquities on the island date between the 26th Dynasty and the Roman Period, a time of immense popularity of the Goddess Isis, and this was her island, where pilgrims would come from all over the Mediterranean There was a tradition that at least once in his life every Egyptian should go on pilgrimage to the sacred island.


Construction on the island took place over an 800 year span, and it was one of the last strongholds of Ancient Egyptian Religion which continued to flourish here into the 6th Century. The temple of Isis shows a wonderful blend of Egyptian and Graeco-Roman architecture. It was also the last functioning temple of ancient religion and only closed down in AD 551. As tourist boats approach the island of Agilika from the east, Trajan's Kiosk (left) balances the Temple of Isis (right). The layout of the temple is apparent from this vantage point: from the left, first pylon, open court, second pylon, covered hypostyle hall, then sanctuary.

To the right of the Second Pylon, the small Temple of Hathor has a beautiful relief of musicians; Hathor was the patroness of music. Further south is the most eye-catching structure on Philae: the Kiosk of Trajan, with beautifully carved floral columns, which was intended as the formal entrance to the temple.

Today, the island floats like a jewel in a pool of royal blue and is one of the highlights of any visit to Aswan. A visit to the Temple at Philae at night for a sound and light show is highly recommended. The show lasts for one hour and is presented in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic. The language and time schedule should be checked before going.





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