Sun illuminated on Wednesday the inner statues of Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan, a rare phenomenon that drew a number of tourists and Egyptians.
The unique astronomical phenomenon, which occurs twice a year, took place at 5:53 am and lasted for 20 minutes, Abu Simbel Temple director Hossam Abod said.
On October and February 22, a shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom, illuminating statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of king Ramses II in the temple's inner sanctuary.
The main temple at Abu Simbel, which Ramses ordered to be built near the border of Nubia and Upper Egypt, was dedicated to two sun gods, Amen-Re and Re-Horakhte. Standing 100 feet (33 meters) tall, the temple was carved into an already-standing sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile.
Four colossal statues of Ramses, each 66 feet (22 meters) high, guard the entrance to the temple. Rising to the pharaoh's knees are smaller statues of family members: his mother; favorite wife, Nefertari; and son, Prince Amonherkhepshef.
Inside the temple, three connected halls extend 185 feet (56 meters) into the mountain. Images of the king's life and many achievements adorn the walls. A second temple at Abu Simbel is dedicated to Nefartari, who appears to have been Ramses' favorite wife.
The Abu Simbel temples do not sit in their original location. The High Dam building threatened the temples at Abu Simbel. Members of the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) orchestrated a massive construction project that moved the temple back 690 feet to its present site.
The only result of the move is that the days of illumination have shifted by one—the illumination used to occur on February and October 21.