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Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae
on Agilkia Island, Egypt

 

The Temple of Philae located on Agilkia Island is an unmissable destination when visiting Egypt. 

However, a visit to the Temple of Philae can be overwhelming as there is such an architectural wealth ranging from monuments erected from the eras of the Pharaohs to the Caesars.  

I have complied a list of my top 9 unmissable things to see at the temple complex.

So, stop searching!

Here are my tips for 9 unique things to see at the Temple of Philae.

 

 

Map of Agilkia Island with

9 Unmissable Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

  1. The Vestibule of Nectanebo I

  2. The Outercourt  and the Colonnades of the Temple of Philae

  3. The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae Complex

  4. The Forecourt of the Temple of Philae and the Birth House (Mammisi)

  5. The Second Pylon

  6. The Vestibule of the Temple of Philae

  7. The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis

  8. The Temple of Hathor

  9. The Kiosk of Trajan (Pharaoh’s Bed)

     

9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island, Egypt

Image Credit: Gérard Ducher via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

NUMBER 1

The Vestibule of Nectanebo I

 

The vestibule of Nectanebo I is a beautiful structure consisting of columns connected with screen walls. Out of the 14 original columns, only 6 remain today.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

If you notice, each side of the column is adorned with a head of goddess Hathor. To have the emblem of goddess Hathor on all four sides, indicates that Hathor was a powerful goddess with her face directed into four corners of the world.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

Also, each column has the cartouche with the name of Nectanebo I.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

NUMBER 1

Kheperkare Nakhtnebef, better known by his hellenized name Nectanebo I, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, founder of the last native dynasty of Egypt, the thirtieth

Source: Wikipedia

 

 

NUMBER 2

The Outercourt  and the Colonnades

of the Temple of Philae

 

In the outercourt, you are going to be surrounded by two rows of magnificent colonnades.

 

Temple of Philae

 

The western colonnade follows the edge of the island.

Here, if you look closely, you will notice that no two capitals are the same.

 

Temple of Philae

 

Now, take a look at the eastern colonnade. It looks different. The reason is that it was never finished.

 

Temple of Philae

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP: 

Make sure to venture just outside of the outercourt, you will get to tour several additional structures dedicated to Arensnuphis, Imhotep and Mandulis.  

CLICK HERE



 

As you approach the first pylon, take a look at the remains of the two obelisks. Now, only a pair of granite lions remain.

 

Temple of Philae

 

 

NUMBER 3

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae Complex

 

The first pylon, or gateway, consists of two 18-meter towers.

The western tower has the famous relief of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, commonly known as Auletes,  grasping a bunch of the enemies by their hair and raising his staff to strike them. 

 

Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

 

The door in the western tower leads to another famous structure: the Birth House, which we will cover in the next section.

Now, let’s take a look at the eastern tower. It has spectacular reliefs of the goddess Isis and the falcon-headed god Horus.

 

Temple of Philae

 

Above the reliefs of Isis and Horus are more fascinating reliefs.

Let’s take a closer look.

On the right, we have Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos presenting the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Horus and Isis. And, on the left, it is again Ptolemy offering incense to Isis and, as my tour guide told me, to Harpocrates.

 

Temple of Philae

 

As you pass through the main entrance of the first pylon, take a look at the walls covered with inscriptions commemorating Napoleon’s campaign. Also, look for an inscription mentioning General Desaix and commemorating his defeat of Mamelukes at Behneceh and then Murad Bey at Sediman.

 

NUMBER 3

General Desaix:

“Resuming his efforts in 1799, by April he had forced Murad Bey out of the country and pacified all of Upper Egypt. In addition to his military victories, his fair administration and improvement of the quality of life for the people of Egypt caused them to nickname him “the Just Sultan”.

Napoleon also admired his accomplishments and sent him a sabre of honor with the words “Conquest of Upper Egypt” engraved on it.”

Source: French Empire

 

Temple of Philae

 

 

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9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island, Egypt

9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island, Egypt

 

 

NUMBER 4

The Forecourt of the Temple of Philae

and the Birth House (Mammisi)

 

The forecourt of the Temple of Philae includes rows of beautiful colonnades adorned with a head of goddess Hathor

 

Temple of Philae

 

On the west side is the Birth House (Mammisi) dedicated to goddess Isis in honor of the birth of her son Horus.

Inside are many reliefs representing the scenes from Horus’ childhood.

 

NUMBER 4

The mammisi, which is often referred to as a birth house and considered by some to be a temple in its own rite, was certainly a structure with considerable religious significance, especially for the king.

This term, which is actually a coptic word for “birth-place”, was originally invented for the structure by Jean Francois Champollion.

Located within the temple precinct and often oriented at right angles to the main temple axis, this type of structure was associated with the mysterious birth of the gods and the celebration of their births.

Source: Ancient Egyptian Temple Elements Part V: Associated Element, Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

 

NUMBER 5

The Second Pylon

 

The second pylon or gateway is even more impressive than the First Pylon at the Temple of Philae.

Interestingly, the second pylon is angled to the east and as such, it completely changes the angle of the temple.

My tour guide told me that the reliefs on the second pylon are by Euergetes II. I made a mental note to check out who Euergetes II was, since I could not make any connections. Sure enough, he was referring to Ptolemy VIII, known as Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

 

NUMBER 6

The Vestibule of the Temple of Philae

 

The entrance of the second pylon leads to a vestibule or you may call it, a hypostyle hall.

The vestibule features eight columns. You will be absolutely amazed by the quality of craftsmanship of these columns. 

 

Temple of Philae

 

Next, make sure to take a look at the ceiling. You will be able to distinguish some beautiful reliefs representing the vultures. By the way, vulture was the symbol of protection for Upper Egypt. 

 

Temple of Philae

 

In the vestibule, you will be able to spot some Coptic crosses, which indicate how the temple was transformed into a Christian place of worship.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

NUMBER 7

The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis

 

To get to the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Isis, you need to pass through three antechambers .

 

Temple of Isis

 

After you pass through three antechambers, you come to the sanctuary of the Temple of Isis.

 

Temple Of Philae

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

In the middle of the sanctuary is a pedestal. It once supported the statue of the goddess Isis and a barque in which it traveled. They are gone now. Apparently, the statue ended up in Paris and the barque in Florence. However, I searched and searched and I could not pinpoint their exact location. I will continue searching since I would like to see what they look like.

 

Temple of Isis

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

The walls of the sanctuary are decorated with beautiful reliefs.

 

Temple of Isis

Temple of Isis

 

 

 

NUMBER 8

The Temple of Hathor

 

Don’t miss the Temple of Hathor! It is located on the east side of the island. It was built by Ptolemy VI Philometor and Ptolemy VIII Eurgetes II.

The temple is beautiful and the location overlooking the water will have you taking lots of pictures.

 

Temple of Hathor

 

Once you cross the temple of Hathor, you will come across several large blocks with the reliefs of god Bes.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

NUMBER 8

Bes (Bisu, Aha) was an ancient Egyptian dwarf god. He was a complex being who was both a deity and a demonic fighter. He was a god of war, yet he was also a patron of childbirth and the home, and was associated with sexuality, humour, music and dancing.

Although he began as a protector of the pharaoh, he became very popular with every day Egyptian people because he protected women and children above all others.

He had no temples and there were no priests ordained in his name. However, he was one of the most popular gods of ancient Egypt and was often depicted on household items such as furniture, mirrors and cosmetics containers and applicators as well as magical wands and knives.

Source: Ancient Egypt Online

 

Actually, this dwarf god was so popular that, I found several other reliefs of his image depicted all over the island.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

 

NUMBER 9

The Kiosk of Trajan (Pharaoh’s Bed)

 

Undeniably, the kiosk of Trajan or Pharaoh’s Bed, is my most favorite structure on the island.

 

Kiosk of Trajan

 

It consists of 14 massive columns connected with screen walls. The columns have beautifully carved floral capitals.

 

Kiosk of Trajan

 

Inside are reliefs showing Trajan as a pharaoh making offerings to Osiris, Isis and Horus.

 

NUMBER 9

Trajan (/ˈtrən/ TRAY-jən; Latin: Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus [traːˈjaːnʊs];[a] 18 September 53 – 8 August 117) was Roman emperor from 98 to 117.

Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps (“best ruler”), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Kiosk of Trajan

 

 

Now, what do you think? Would you add anything else to this list?

Let me know! Leave me a quick comment!

Next, find out why the Temple of Philae was so important.

And, did you know that it was moved?

 

 

Why Was the Temple of Philae Important

 

The temple of Philae was important for several reasons. First of all, Philae Island was believed to be one of the burial places of Osiris. Second, the temple of Philae was dedicated to goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.

The temple of Philae was venerated starting from the Ptolemaic Kingdom period, through the Aegyptus period, all the way till the Coptic period.

The pilgrims would come from all over the Mediterranean to worship the goddess Isis.

 

Temple of Isis

Temple of Isis

 

 

Why Was the Temple of Philae Moved

 

Did you know that the Temple of Philae was moved?

The construction of the Old Aswan Dam (also called Aswan Low Dam) in 1902, caused the Philae Island and its temple complex to be flooded for majority of the year.

 

The_temple_of_Isis_and_the_Pavillon_of_Trajan

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

 

When the plans for the second dam were presented in 1954, it became clear that the island will cease to exit.

In 1960 UNESCO launched the international campaign to save the Nubian monuments. In 1968 a decision was made to dismantle, move and then, rebuild the Temple of Philae Complex. The island of Agilkia located 500 meters away was selected as the new location of the Temple of Philae.

 

NUMBER 9

Interestingly, the method that was used for measuring the monuments before they were moved was photogrammetry. 

Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs.

“The input to photogrammetry is photographs, and the output is typically a map, a drawing, a measurement, or a 3D model of some real-world object or scene. Many of the maps we use today are created with photogrammetry and photographs taken from aircraft.” Source: Photogrammetry

 

Reconstruction_of_the_temple_of_Isis_on_its_new_site_at_AGILKIA_island

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Where Is the Temple of Philae Located

 

The Temple of Philae Complex is located on Agilkia Island (also called Agilika). Agilkia Island is situated in the reservoir of the Old Aswan Dam (also called Aswan Low Dam).

 

 Source: Map data @2020 ORION_ME

 

How to Get to the Temple of Philae

 

My transportation to the Temple of Philae and my guide were done through the travel agency: Your Egypt Tours. They worked with me to put together a 7-day Egypt itinerary.

For my trip to see the Temple of Philae, my guide picked me up from the airport in Aswan and off we went to see the Temple of Philae located on the island of Agilkia, then, the Aswan High Dam, and finally, we drove to see the Abu Simbel Temple Complex. Hands down, it was one of my favorite sightseeing days in Egypt.

Anyway, it took about 20 minutes to reach the Marina Philae Temple, where the small boats wait to transport visitors to Agilkia Island where the Temple of Philae Complex is located. 

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

The cost of getting the boat is around 10 EGP.

It takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the island of Agilkia. And, the views on the way there are absolutely breathtaking.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

Before you know, you will start to see the temple complex.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

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What Are the Opening Hours and Entrance Fees to the Temple of Philae

 

The Temple of Philae Complex is open from 7 am till 4 pm (October through May) and 7 am till 5 pm (June through September).

The entrance fee is 180 EGP.

 

Things to See at Temple of Philae

 

Also, if you are interested, check out the sound and light show. For tickets and times click here.

 

 

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9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island, Egypt

9 Unmissable Things to See at the Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island, Egypt

 

Now, I would like to hear back from you!

Are you planning your trip to Egypt? Is the Temple of Philae on your list of places to visit?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Also, click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process!

 

 

 

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