Egypt has many temples that are much more famous than Kalabsha Temple, but what makes this site special is the fact that it was rescued from Lake Nasser.
Egypt is famed for its countless historical sites, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza; the Sphinx, and of course an almost infinite number of famous temples. As is to be expected, some temples are more remarkable and more famous than others, but that’s not to say one should dismiss the idea of visiting some of the lesser known temples. After all, they all have something unique to offer.
The Formation Of Lake Nasser And Its Consequences
Lake Nasser was formed when the Aswan High Dam was constructed, and today it is one of the world’s largest manmade lakes, covering an area of around 5,250 square kilometer. Having said all of that, a small section of the Lake extends beyond Egypt’s borders, into Sudan. As the water level began to rise in the area, following the completion of the dam, many of the nearby historical sites where in jeopardy of being flooded and lost forever.
However, a massive international rescue operation soon got underway. It was of course acknowledged that not all sites could be save, but thankfully a number of them were successfully rescued, nearly all of which were physically moved to higher ground, including Kalabsha Temple. One of the intriguing things about this temple is the fact that even though the original temple was never completed, it was used continually during ancient times.
The Birth Of Kalabsha Temple
The original site of the temple was at the “Bab al-Kalabsha” or the “Gate of Kalabsha” in Nubia. It is generally believed to have been built around 30 BC as a tribute to a sun god, and was constructed on top of the remains of an earlier temple built by Egypt’s Amenhotep II. However, none of that original site remains today.
A Strong Roman Influence
Many visitors to the area find it quite odd that despite being a Roman-built temple, it features mostly Egyptian icons and images. In truth, this was actually quite common trait at the time. Even odd to many travelers, is the fact that the temple was used as a Christian church at one point, after Christianity had become established throughout Egypt, but this too was a common occurrence in many of the Egyptian temples.
Moving The Temple To Higher Ground
When plans for the Aswan High Dam were announced, it was determined that the waters of Lake Nasser would soon consume the temple. This in turn led to an effort to prevent this from happened, and the Egyptian government worked with Germany to relocate the temple over the course of two full years. It is now located in Chellal or New Kalabsha, along with a few other Nubian monuments as well.
Kalabsha Temple is considered to be the largest and finest free standing temple of Egyptian Nubia, and its unique trapezoidal shape also lures many tourists to the area. Visitors, however, should not overlook the neighboring sites, such as the lovely Kiosk of Kertassi and the impressive Temple of Beit El Wali, both built by the ever popular Ramesses II.
Most visitors reach Kalabsha via a water taxi, though there are times when the water levels are low enough to be driven via traditional cars and SUVs. There are no fees to enter the sites, but it can be costly to reach the destination. Also, many people do not plan enough time at the site to properly tour the entire collection of monuments. A period of at least four hours is recommended to thoroughly enjoy the temples and structures of the area.
Kalabsha Temple has a very interesting and unique history, and though it is considered an incomplete or unfinished work, most scholars point to it as one of the finest examples of its kind. Spend plenty of time at the site and be sure that you “shop around” between the boatmen to get a good deal on your water taxi service.
Alternatively, you can often book an Egypt tours package that includes a trip to Kalabsha Temple, but please bear in mind that we also provide custom Egypt tours which can be tailored specifically to your needs. With more than half a century worth of experience, and with 24/7 customer service, we well and truly are a one-stop solution for your perfect Egypt vacation.