The Kalabsha Temple

The Kalabsha Temple

The Kalabsha Temple, also known as the Temple of Kalabsha, is an ancient Egyptian temple located on the western bank of the Nile River in Nubia, southern Egypt. It is situated approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Aswan and near the High Dam.

The Temple of Kalabsha is considered one of the most important archaeological attractions that were built in the Roman era, and it is surprising that the sun is perpendicular to the room of Jerusalem of the Holies of Mandolis twice during the year, similar to the Abu Simbel Temple .

The temple is standard in its plan. A monumental gateway called a pylon leads into an open-air forecourt followed by a columned hall, called a hypostyle hall. Two transversal chambers lie beyond which served as halls for offerings.

At the far end of the temple is the sanctuary, where the cult image of the god was kept. A partly rock-cut chapel to the Nubian god Dedwen lies to the south-west, and a small chapel, likely built by Ptolemy IX in the 2nd century BC, is located to the north-east.

Multiple cultures have left their mark on the temple of Kalabsha, from its dedication to a Nubian god to its inscriptions in Meroitic and Greek. The slender columns and their wide spacing hint at influence from Graeco-Roman tradition. There are several crosses carved onto its walls, signaling the beginning of Christianity in the region when the sanctuary was used as a church.

From 1962 to 1963, this temple, like many others in Nubia, was relocated from its original site on Kalabsha Island to New Kalabsha Island in order to save it from the rising waters of the Nile in the aftermath of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Because of their immense historical significance, the Egyptian monuments in Nubia from Abu Simbel to Philae, including the monuments standing today on New Kalabsha, were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

The temple is a classic example of Egyptian temple architecture and is built in the traditional style with a pylon (large gateway) at the entrance, a courtyard, and a hypostyle hall with columns. The interior walls of the temple are adorned with well-preserved hieroglyphics and depictions of gods and pharaohs.

While Mandulis, the god to whom the temple was dedicated, was a Nubian solar deity often depicted with a headdress resembling the sun disk. He was associated with the sun, fertility, and rejuvenation.

Today, the Kalabsha Temple is a popular tourist attraction in the region. Visitors can explore its well-preserved architecture, inscriptions, and artwork while enjoying views of the Nile River and the surrounding landscape.

The Kalabsha Temple is part of an open-air museum that also includes other relocated temples such as the Beit el-Wali Temple and the Kiosk of Qertassi. These temples were relocated to save them from being submerged by the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Visiting the Kalabsha Temple offers a glimpse into the rich history of ancient Egypt and the efforts made to preserve its cultural heritage in the face of modern development.

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