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Philae Temple: The Untold Story

Jun 4
Tucked away on the serene island of Agilkia in the Nile River, the Philae Temple captivates visitors with its timeless beauty and rich history. Yet, behind the stunning facade lies an untold story that only a few know. From its origins to near destruction and final resurrection, the Philae Temple is a wonder. Join us on a journey through time and explore the hidden secrets of this ancient Egyptian gem.

Philae Temple's History of Empires

At Philae Temple, you'll find a fascinating story of the rise and fall of three great empires. This temple was built during the reign of Ptolemy II in the Greco-Roman Period and is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. The temple walls contain scenes from Egyptian mythology that depict Isis bringing Osiris back to life, giving birth to Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death. From early times, the island of Philae was sacred to the goddess Isis. The temple complex was completed by Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his successor Ptolemy III Euergetes but was never fully decorated. The decorations date from the period of the later Ptolemies and Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius but were never finished.

To protect the Philae temple and other ancient monuments from the waters of the newer Aswan Dam, a nearby island was modified to be approximately the same shape as the original. The temples were moved and restored, now in better condition than in centuries. This allowed visitors to enjoy the exquisite design of the Philae Temple, which recreates the Ancient Egypt era and the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Additionally, the temple represents the Roman Empire and beyond as Christianity spread across these lands. You can see evidence of this in some of the bas-reliefs on the walls where Christians have chiselled away the faces and bodies of the gods and where some crosses were carved into the stone, marking a spot where Christians worshipped (possibly while they took refuge).

Walking across the island of Philae and approaching the temple, visitors will see an enormous facade adorned with intricately carved images of the god Horus. The courtyards are lined with collonades, and the darkened core of the temple complex is particularly awe-inspiring. Throughout the temple, every inch seems to be covered with hieroglyphs. Even though the temple was built in stages, everything fits harmoniously with the other parts of the temple complex. Even more importantly, it also fits in with its surroundings, the water, the other small islands, and the shorelines.

Visiting Philae Temple is a must-see experience for anyone interested in the history of empires. It's important to remember that places like Philae Temple and Luxor Temple represent such different eras of history and different designs. They are both magnificent in their ways. The Philae Temple is an incredible example of how civilisations shift over time. Empires rise and fall, and nothing great stays that way forever, just like the last hieroglyphs. So, while it might be understandable to feel angry that people defaced some of the Egyptian gods carved into the temple walls, looking at the faceless gods can help visitors understand the complexity of history and how empires rise and fall.

The Philae Temple is a fascinating history representing the rise and fall of empires and religions. It is important to appreciate the intricate design of the temple and see the history it has endured, such as being submerged by a dam and the subsequent relocation to a nearby island. The temple is a testament to that nothing is permanent, and all things, including empires, eventually end. Visiting Philae Temple is highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of empires, and it is a must-see attraction when visiting Egypt. [1][2]

The move to Aswan Dam

When you visit Aswan, explore the island temple of Isis in Philae. This temple is one of the latest and best-preserved in Egypt, and it was nearly lost forever due to the construction of the Aswan Dam. While the dam was necessary for agriculture and hydroelectric power, it would've completely submerged Philae Temple if not for a UNESCO project that moved it brick by numbered brick to a different and drier island.

Lasting well into the Christian era of Ancient Rome, Philae was one of the last places where the Egyptian religion was practised. It was a cult centre for the goddess Isis, who had inspired mystery cults across the empire. Unfortunately, the Islamic State terrorist group has besmirched the goddess's name similarly to how the swastika was used in the past.

Part of the fun of visiting Philae Temple is the journey there. The trip involves a boat ride through the deep blue waters of the Nile. Upon reaching the island of Agilkia, you'll walk across it and admire the enormous facade with carved images of the god Horus. The temple complex contains courtyards lined with collonades and is filled with hieroglyphs that cover every inch of the building. The design of Philae is truly beautiful and fits harmoniously with its surrounding water, islands, and shoreline. 

When visiting Aswan, don't dismiss Philae Temple as "another Egyptian temple." It represents a few eras, including Ancient Egypt, on which its design is based and the Ptolemaic Kingdom, during which much of it was built. The temple also represents the later Roman Empire and beyond as Christianity spread across the land. You can see the impacts of Christianity in the bas-reliefs on the walls and the crosses carved into the stone. Despite the defaced images of the gods, they represent the shifting empires and remind us that nothing great stays the same forever.

Philae Temple has a fascinating and untold story deserves to be heard. Thanks to the efforts of UNESCO and the move to Aswan Dam, this beautiful temple was preserved for generations. You can appreciate the rich cultural heritage and learn about the world's history firsthand by visiting Philae and other historical sites in Egypt. [3][4]

The largest collection of Egyptian artefacts in Western North America

1. You're planning a trip to Egypt, and one of the must-visit places on your list is Philae Temple - but do you know its full story? Built during the Ancient Egypt era, the temple was caught in the middle of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and was eventually moved and restored to protect it from the waters of the Aswan Dam.
2. When you visit Philae Temple, you'll be amazed by the harmony of the temple's design. From the enormous facade with carved images of the god Horus to the courtyards lined with collonades and the darkened core of the temple complex, every inch is covered with hieroglyphs. The temple also represents a variety of eras, including Ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic Kingdom. 
3. However, when Christianity spread across the lands, Christians defaced many of the bas-reliefs on the walls by chiselling away the faces and bodies of the gods. While at first, this may seem like vandalism, it's instead a representation of the shift in the civilization of this land and the rise and fall of empires.
4. Don't dismiss Philae Temple as "another Egyptian temple." It has a unique story and design that are both worth exploring. Visiting Philae Temple is an optional activity, but it's highly recommended. When you're in Aswan, don't forget to check out other historical sites such as the Abu Simbel temples, Great Pyramids and Great Sphinx, and Alexandria.
5. Lastly, if you're planning a trip to Egypt, G Adventures is one of the best tour companies you can use for a fantastic experience. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a first-time adventurer, Egypt's iconic destinations, including Philae Temple, will surely transport you back to a land of pharaohs, pyramids, and mummies. [5][6]

Dedicated to Isis Osiris and Horus

Travel back in time as you enter the historic Philae Temple complex, home to the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts in western North America. Originally built during the reign of Ptolemy II in Egypt's Greco-Roman Period, the Temple of Isis at Philae is a must-visit for any history enthusiast.

As you walk through the temple walls, you'll be amazed by the scenes from Egyptian mythology, such as Isis bringing Osiris back to life, birthing Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death. Other small temples or shrines dedicated to Egyptian deities, such as Imhotep, Hathor, Horus, and Nephthys, can be found on the island.

Thanks to the efforts of the Egyptian government and UNESCO, the Philae Temple complex was saved from forever being submerged by the construction of the new Aswan dam in the 1960s. The entire temple, consisting of 50,000 stones, was relocated to a nearby island named Agilka, which stands tall and mighty today.

Explore the stunning hypostyle hall of the famous Temple of Isis on Philae Island. One of the last temples dedicated to the cult of Isis, the goddess of love and family, stands tall and proud as one of Egypt's most spectacular sanctuaries. The columns of the hypostyle hall are strikingly well-preserved, and the reliefs, such as the carvings of musical scenes, have retained much of their ancient beauty.

Whether you are an all-inclusive cruise traveller or on a shorter trip down the Nile, most cruises stop at this historic site. Take the hassle-free route and book a guided English-language excursion to combine your visit to Philae Temple with a trip to the nearby monuments of the Unfinished Obelisk and the High Dam. And, When in the area, attend the magnificent sound and light show held every evening at the temple complex.

Witness the stunning beauty of one of Egypt's most significant temples, dedicated to the goddess who brought her husband Osiris back to life after he was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. Explore the tale of the powerful family connection between Isis, Osiris, and their son, Horus. The Philae Temple complex is a sight to behold, combining ancient Egyptian traditions with the Greco-Roman architectural style. [7][8]

Unrealized Roman Empire design elements

As you walk across the island of Philae, you'll encounter the Temple of Isis - one of the most significant monuments of the Greco-Roman Period in Egypt. This temple was built to honour the goddess Isis, who was believed to bring Osiris back to life and give birth to Horus. The complex structures of the temple, completed under the reigns of Ptolemy II and III, contain stunning scenes of Egyptian mythology. However, the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius never completed the decoration of the temple walls. The Roman emperor Hadrian later added a gate to the west of the temple complex and small shrines dedicated to other Egyptian deities, including Imhotep, Hathor, Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys. 

The temple complex, unfortunately, faced the danger of being submerged forever due to the construction of the new Aswan Dam (1960-1970). Thanks to the efforts of the Egyptian government and UNESCO, the temple complex was pumped dry and relocated to a nearby island stone by stone. Although the obelisks in front of the temple were removed and now reside in a garden in Dorset, England, Philae Temple still stands tall on Agilka Island today. 

Philae's beauty and harmony stem from the Ancient Egyptian design and the unrealized Roman empire design elements that were included. The temple complex's architecture skillfully fits into its surroundings, weaving with the water, small islands, and shorelines surrounding it. Its hieroglyphs cover every inch of the temple walls, telling stories of a bygone era. When visiting this magnificent site, you'll walk through courtyards lined with collonades and enter the darkened core of the temple complex, where the walls are adorned with hieroglyphs. The design and significance of the Philae Temple make it an unmissable location for anyone visiting Egypt.

Philae Temple represents centuries of history and the rise and fall of empires. When exploring its walls, you'll be transported to a bygone time when Ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic Kingdom thrived. You'll also notice how Christians have chiselled away the bas-reliefs on the walls to represent the later Roman Empire and beyond. The images of the gods, defaced by Christians, represent a shift in civilizations and serve as a reminder that nothing stays great forever - empires will rise and fall. This temple complex is a true embodiment of the rich and diverse history of ancient Egypt, and it serves as an excellent testimony to the cultural significance of the region.

Philae Temple is more than just one of the largest collections of Egyptian artefacts exhibited in Western North America. This impressive temple complex has a rich and varied history interweaving with several empires' rise and fall. The intricate details of Philae Temple's architecture and design provide visitors with an awe-inspiring experience that transports them to a bygone era. This site is a must-visit for anyone travelling to Egypt, as it showcases the region's cultural significance and offers insight into the empires that have shaped our world today. [9][10]