Ramses II's face lights up in Aswan's Abu Simbel Temple on Saturday

Ahram Online , Thursday 20 Feb 2020

Solar alignment happens twice a year: on 22 October, marking the Pharaoh's coronation; and on 22 February, marking his birthday.

Abu Simbel Temple (Al-Ahram)
Abu Simbel Temple (Al-Ahram)

On Saturday, 6:23pm, and for about 20 minutes, the sun rays will illuminate three of the four statues in the inner sanctuary of Aswan's Abu Simbel Temple: the statue of King Ramses II as well as of gods Amun-Re and Re-Hur-Akhty.

The fourth statue, that of the god of darkness Ptah is left unlit as a symbol of his connection to the underworld.

The solar alignment ceremonies usually attract thousands of visitors each year.

The 3,200-year-old temple of Abu Simbel, built by king Ramses II, was rediscovered in 1813 by Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt after it had been buried in the desert for centuries.

In 1959, UNESCO launched an initiative to dismantle and rebuild the Abu Simbel Temples away from and above their original location to save them from being flooded under Lake Nasser following the building of the Aswan dam in 1960.

The restoration and relocation of the Abu Simbel Temples was completed in September 1968. 

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