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.
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.