Philae Temple (the Pearl of Egypt) on Philae Island, Aswan

Philae Temple (the Pearl of Egypt) on Philae Island, Aswan

The temple of Philae and a granite quarry is south of the city of Aswan where the stone for many of the ancient monuments were chiseled. On the right side of the temple precincts stands the Trajan’s kiosk. This astonishing temple of Philae, the sacred complex of monuments constructed for the cult of Isis and Osiris. It was built under the Ptolemies and finished in Roman times, giving us great insight into the spiritual lives and ancient customs of the ancient Egyptians.

Philae Temple, located on the island of Philae south of the old Aswan Dam, is a magnificent example of the intermingling of Egypts rich history. Philae is best reached by taxi from the East bank. It has to be visited in the morning. Hire a motorboat to take you from the ticket office across the water to the island and keep the guides number with you. This Nile ride is different but equally stunning, with views of the temple and the Aswan Dam. Philae Island is not the temples original site. It was relocated there by UNESCO after late President Nassers High Dam project threatened to drown it in Lake Nasser forever.
Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple
Philae was dedicated to worship of the Ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. Its earliest remains date back to the reign of Nectanebo, Egypts last native king. However, the most important of the ruins were begun by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the Ptolemaic era and added to for the next 500 years until the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian. By this time, Isis was worshipped across the entire Roman Empire. Egypts early Christians later transformed the main temples hall into a chapel. Crosses can be seen inscribed on the columns.

The boundaries of the island, among shady trees and lapping waters, provide some relief from Aswans scorching sun (like most of southern Egypt, Aswans weather is hot by day and near freezing at night). At night enjoy an optional Sound & Light Show at Temple of Philae.

The most breathtaking is boat ride across the Nile and visit 13th century temples at Abu Simbel dedicated to Ramses II and Queen Nefertari (not to be confused with Queen Nefertiti) and a temple at Philae called “the Pearl of Egypt”. Philae Island was a rocky island in the middle of the Nile, south of Aswan, where ancient Egyptians had built the temple for the Goddess Isis. But the building of the first Aswan Dam meant that the island would be submerged. So, the temple was moved, literally, stone by stone, to a new island called Egilica, reshaped to imitate Philae Island. After a quick dekko of the Temple, Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, we flew back to Cairo.
Philae Temple (the Pearl of Egypt) on Philae Island of the old Aswan Dam in the middle of the Nile

Little History About Philae Temple for the Goddess Isis

Philae Temple, built to honour Isis and the last ancient temple in the classical Egyptian architectural style, would leave you a tad disappointed if you're looking to compare with the giant rock art found at Luxor Temple -- the large ancient Egyptian temple complex. There are people who within their souls, passions stir when they are in the sacred presence of ancient, sacrosanct tombs.

Philae Temple was also dismantled and reassembled (on Agilika Island about 500m. from its original home on Philae island) in the wake of the High Dam. The temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis, is in a beautiful setting which has been landscaped to match its original site. Its various shrines and sanctuaries, which include a temple of Hathor, a Birth House and two pylons, celebrate all the deities involved in the Isis and Osiris myth. At night visit the Sound and Light Show, a magical experience as floodlit buildings are silhouetted against the volcanic rocks and water surrounding them.

Isis is said to have found Osiris's heart on Philae Island in the Nile, where the temple of Isis was built and the cult towards her maintained. But this island was submerged when the High Dam was built to control flooding on the Nile, south of Aswan. UNESCO mounted a rescue operation in 1960 after archaeologists raised concerns about the effect of the dam. Sites were surveyed and excavated and 24 major monuments were moved to safer locations.

An international appeal was launched by UNESCO in 1960 to save the Nubian monuments. This appeal resulted in the excavation and recording of hundreds of sites, the recovery of thousands of objects, and the salvage and relocation of a number of important temples to higher ground. Philae, Kalabsha, Wadi Al-Sabua, Dakka, Derr and other sites were moved, with the twin temples of Abu Simbel receiving the most media attention.

The Philae temple was relocated to Aglikia Island, south of Aswan. The hieroglyph for Isis is a throne and she is often depicted with a throne on her head or a solar disc with cow's horns. Philae Island and the temple of Isis also disappeared. But UNESCO funded an extraordinary eight-year project to cut the buildings into 50,000 pieces and reassemble them 300 metres away on a higher island.

For More Information Visit: Aswan Tourism and Tourist Information

Last Updated on Sunday 5th December 2010