Aswan

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“The Old Cataract Hotel is perched atop a granite hill at the Nile river's edge in Aswan, Egypt, and takes its name from the rivers First Cataract (rapids) at the traditional northern border of Nubia.. Unlike many historical hotels in Egypt, it was never a royal palace or lodge. It has always been a grand hotel. Today, under the management of Sofetel, it remains one of the finest hotels in Egypt. Photo by: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny

Aswan, Egypt’s southern city and ancient frontier has a distinctively African atmosphere – the majority of its inhabitants are Nubians, darker and taller than Upper Egyptians. The city called Syene in ancient Egyptian times used to be the southernmost town of the Roman Empire and in the 19th century it was the starting point of the conquest of Sudan. Its geographical position made it an important market for caravans and still today its bazaar remains the best outside Cairo. Aswan is a wonderful place to relax. Visitors can stroll around, take a felucca (sailing boat) on the Nile, and walk through the gardens on Kitcheners’ Island (Geziret el-Nabatat) or the villages on Elephantine Island. Those, who are interested in Nubian culture, shouldn’t miss the Nubian Museum.

“This Nilometer is one of the most intact relics of Elephantine Island. From the earliest times, the waters of the Nile, swollen by monsoon rains in Ethiopia, flooded over the surrounding valley every year between June and September of the modern calendar. A nilometer was used to measure the height of the Nile in ancient times. Records of the maximum height were kept. Surviving nilometers exist connected with the temples at Philae, on the Nubian Egyptian border, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo, and Dendera, as well as the best-known nilometer on the island of Elephantine at Aswan. Today, satellites are used to measure water levels, and the Aswan Dam has lessened the need for such instruments.” Photo by: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny
“This Nilometer is one of the most intact relics of Elephantine Island. From the earliest times, the waters of the Nile, swollen by monsoon rains in Ethiopia, flooded over the surrounding valley every year between June and September of the modern calendar. A nilometer was used to measure the height of the Nile in ancient times. Records of the maximum height were kept. Surviving nilometers exist connected with the temples at Philae, on the Nubian Egyptian border, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo, and Dendera, as well as the best-known nilometer on the island of Elephantine at Aswan. Today, satellites are used to measure water levels, and the Aswan Dam has lessened the need for such instruments.” Photo by: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny

A must in Nubia is a visit to Abu Simbel 280 km south of Aswan. Ramses II built the site of the two temples in the 19th dynasty; one dedicated to himself and one in honor of his wife Nefertari. In 1965, as the waters of Lake Nasser threatened the temples, UNESCO rebuilt the temples 210-m from and 61 m higher than the original site.

aswan

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