File photo: Dawn breaks on statues of Pharoah Ramses II (R) and Amun, the God of Light (L), in the inner sanctum of the temple of Abu Simbel (Photo: Reuters)
A large number of tourists gathered on Thursday to watch the sun’s rays illuminate the sculptures in the Great Temple at Abu Simbel in Aswan, an occasion that happens twice a year.
The ceremony was attended by a number of state and archaeological Egyptian and foreign officials amid tight security measures.
For most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple at Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness.
But, twice a year, on February 22, Ramses II’s birthday, and again on October 22, a day celebrating his coronation, sunlight illuminates on the seated statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of Ramses II.
The statues sit in the company of the Egyptian god of the underworld, Ptah ,who remains in the shade all year.