The complex consists of two temples. The larger one is dedicated to Ra-Harakhty, Ptah and Amun, Egypt's three state deities of the time, and features four large statues of Ramesses II in the facade. The smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified by Nefertari, Ramesses's most beloved wife (in total, the pharaoh had some 200 wives and concubines).
The greater temple
Close-up of one of the colossal statues of Ramesses II, wearing the double crown of Lower and Upper Egypt.The greater Abu Simbel temple is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Ramesses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.
The facade is 33 meters high, and 38 meters broad, and guarded by four statues, each of which is 20 meters high. They were sculptured directly from the rock in which the temple was located before it was moved. All statues represent Ramesses II, seated on a throne and wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The statue to the left of the entrance was damaged in an earthquake, leaving only the lower part of the statue still intact.
Several smaller figures are situated at the feet of the four statues, depicting members of the pharaoh's family. They include his mother Tuya, Nefertari, and some of his sons and daughters.
Above the entrance there is a statue of a falcon-headed Ra-Harakhte, with the pharaoh shown worshipping on both sides of him. Below the statue there is an ancient rebus, showing the prenomen or throne name of Ramesses: Waser-ma'at.
The facade is topped by a row of 22 baboons, their arms raised in the air, supposedly worshipping the rising sun. Another notable feature of the facade is a stele which records the marriage of Ramesses with a daughter of king Hattusili III, which sealed the peace between Egypt and the Hittites.
One of the eight pillars in the main hall of the temple, showing Ramesses II as Osiris.The inner part of the temple has the same triangular layout that most ancient Egyptian temples follow, with rooms decreasing in size from the entrance to the sanctuary.
The first hall of the temple features eight statues of the deified Rameses II in the shape of Osiris, serving as pillars. The walls depict scenes of Egyptian victories in Libya, Syria and Nubia, including images from the Battle of Kadesh. The second hall depicts Ramesses and Nefertari with the sacred boats of Amun and Ra-Horakthy.
The sanctuary contains four seated statues of Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, Amun and Ramesses. The temple was constructed in such a way that the sun shines directly on all four statues during two days of the year, February 20 and October 20. These dates are allegedly the king's birthday and coronation day respectively, but there is no evidence to support this. Due to the displacement of the temple, it is widely believed that this event now occurs one day later than it did originally.
The Smaller Abu Simbel Temple
The Smaller Abu Simbel Temple is located north of the Greater Temple. It was carved in the rock by Ramesses II and dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty, and also to his favorite wife, Nefertari, for "whose sake the very sun doeth shine." The facade is adorned by six statues, four of Ramesses II and two of Nefertari. Most unusually, the six are the same height, which indicates the esteem in which Nefertari was held. The entrance leads to a hall containing six pillars bearing the head of the goddess Hathor.
The eastern wall bears inscriptions depicting Ramesses II striking the enemy before Ra-Harakhte and Amun-Ra. Other wall scenes show Rameses II and Nefertari offering sacrifices to the gods. Beyond this hall, there