Philae Temple is without question one of the best temples to visit in Egypt, and what makes it even more special is the fact that if you visit at night you can enjoy the spectacular Temple of Philae Sound and Light Show. Also often referred to as the Temple of Isis, it features in practically all good quality Nile cruise holidays, and also in several Aswan package tours.
A Rescued Temple And Now A World Heritage Site
When arriving at the temple, your guide will almost certainly inform you that you’ve arrived at Philae, but this is not exactly true. You might find yourself staring at Philae Temple, but these days the original two islands known collectively as Philae lie buried beneath the still waters of Lake Nasser, an inevitable consequence of the Aswan High Dam.
When the original low dam in Aswan was constructed, the rising waters of Lake Nasser inundated the island on which the temple stood, along with much of the temple itself. Knowing that the temple would be completely lost as a result of the Aswan High Dam, a massive UNESCO project got underway and the temple was moved to higher ground on nearby Agilkia Island. This achievement in itself makes the area worth visiting.
When you see the temple standing today, it really is mind boggling to think than the entire complex was actually moved and then reconstructed.
A Brief History Of Philae Temple
Having been completed in around 690 AD, Philae Temple is considered by many to be the last of the ancient temples constructed in the “classic” Egyptian style. It is one of the many temples throughout Egypt that were built in honor the goddess Isis, and it serves as a remarkable example of the cult that was built around her story, and one which includes Osiris and Horus.
In its prime, it was considered to be one of the most sacred of all temples, by both the Egyptians and the Nubians. This was essentially because they believed that Osiris had in fact been buried on the island where the temple stood. Nobody other than priests were permitted to dwell there, and legend has it that no birds flew overhead, and that even fish and other aquatic animals never approached the shores of the island.
Visiting The Temple Of Philae After Sunset
While many visitors pay a visit to the site to explore the temple during daylight hours, many more also visit the site at night to see the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show. This is considered by many who have experienced it to be an extremely magical show. The lights of the temple and other buildings on the island reflect back from the surrounding waters as you approach the island, and when the show begins it is told not by boring or dull narrators but by actors dramatically playing the roles of Isis and Osiris.
Many tour operators offer convenient package deals that include transportation; refreshments, a tour guide, and even hotel pick up or drop off service. This is often the best way to gain access to the show if you want to avoid the hassle of having to make your own travel arrangements from the shore to the island.
Remember too that the temperatures can drop rapidly in this area, and if you have spent a hot day in the sun, a trip to the island may leave you shivering. Don’t miss this chance however to experience a once in a lifetime visit to the Temple of Philae, and to learn a great deal about its fascinating past.
The ancient Temple of Isis features prominently in virtually all Nile cruise holidays, regardless of whether your cruise starts in Aswan or Luxor. Most Egypt tour packages that include a visit to Aswan will also include a visit to Philae Temple, although visitors might be required to purchase their own tickets if they want to see the Philae Temple sound and light show.