Located at the site of New Kalabsha, the Temple of Beit El Wali was built by Ramesess II, and while it might be relatively small, it’s also very fascinating. Today, most high quality Lake Nasser cruises will include a visit to this ancient structure.
The Temple of Beit El Wali which is located just a short distance south of the Aswan High Dam, at the same site as the Kalabsha Temple, is small compared to other ancient Egyptian temples, but it is fascinating nonetheless. Built by Ramesess II, it is also known to be one of the first buildings ever used for the purpose of public relations.
A Brief History Of Temple of Beit El Wali
One of the first things one cannot fail to notice about this temple is the fact that it was constructed in an “out of the way” type of location, and it’s believed by many scholars to have been infrequently used. In fact, its name even translates to “House Of The Holy Man” because it once served as a dwelling for a hermit for many years
It is also relatively small when one compares it to other temples of its kind, and that gives historians a clue as to its intended purpose. Instead of being a place of frequent worship, most believe that it may have been constructed primarily for the purpose of helping the Egyptian pharaohs keep their hold over Nubia through the use of images, language, and specific messages delivered through the art and decoration of the temple.
It is generally believed that Temple of Beit El Wali predates most of the buildings located at New Kalabsha which interestingly enough, are all structures that have been relocated from their original sites in order to save them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
Even though the Temple of Beit El Wali was altered in later years by Christians, one cannot help but admire just how remarkable the quality is of the many painted reliefs which remain within the temple to this day. Additionally, the reliefs within the building are considered remarkable because of their looser styling and their depiction of the Egyptian victory over the Nubians.
Striking Brilliance Of Ancient Art
If you had visited the temple a few decades ago, you would have seen that it originally had a mud and brick pylon in the front of the main stone temple. However, this was not relocated along with the rest of the structure. Today, visitors enter the temple directly via the main entrance hall that leads into the covered hypostyle hall, and then the small sanctuary at the back.
The strikingly brilliant colors of the paintings are what surprises most people, and gives a very accurate indication of the brilliant blue, green, red, and gold that once saturated all of Egypt’s many monuments.
Getting to the Temple of Beit El Wali is very easy. Visitors should simply follow the small connecting path that leads away from the Kalabsha Temple at the New Kalabsha site. Those who book a tour of the region’s Nubian monuments will often find that the tour incorporates the entire area, including the Temple of Beit El Wali. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a Lake Nasser cruise you will definitely want to be sure that a visit to Beit El Wali is included in your itinerary.
The Temple of Beit El Wali might not be one of the Egypt top 10 tourist attractions, or even the largest or most striking temple, but it is definitely a site worth visiting. Unfortunately not many of the regular Egypt tour packages include a visit to these lesser known sites, but many of our luxury Lake Nasser cruises do.