Visitors to the Abu Simbel Temple can witness a rare phenomenon: the statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II illuminated at dawn by the sun’s rays.
This occurs only twice a year, on the 22nd of February, the day on which the king’s birthday is celebrated, and the 22nd of October, the day on which he was crowned, according to historians.
For most of the year, the interior of Abu Simbel’s main temple shrine remains in darkness.
The phenomenon begins around 6:25 AM, according to the newspaper Egypt Today, and despite lasting only 20 minutes, it gathers about 3,000 tourists to watch the statues light up.
Sunlight also illuminates the statues of the Sun Gods, Re-Horakhty and Amun-Ra, which stand next to the statue of King Ramesses II.
The statues sit in the company of the Theban god of darkness, Ptah, who remains in the shadows throughout the year.
The visit to the site is organized these days by the Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashat, and the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled al Enani, and is part of the attempt to boost tourism to the region.
Abul Simbel is an archaeological complex consisting of two large temples carved into the rock and built between 1284 BC and 1264 BC, during the reign of Ramesses II, in the 19th dynasty, and are located on the west bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt, close to the border with Sudan.