Aswān: The Complete Guide

Located on the east bank of the Nile River just below the First Cataract, Aswān (also spelled Assuan or Assouan) is the capital of Aswān muḥāfaẓah (governorate) in Egypt. It was the southernmost boundary of pharaonic Egypt and the site of the ancient city of Swen, which was also known as “the Mart” in ancient Egyptian and is the origin of the city’s name. Aswān served as a Roman, Turkish, and British frontier garrison post. The local quarries are still active and supplied granite for many ancient Egyptian monuments.

Nowadays, Aswān is an administrative, industrial, and commercial center that receives trade from Sudan. It is also a popular winter resort with many hotels and an international airport. Industries in the city include a copper- and steel-producing complex, a chemicals plant, a cement plant, a sugar refinery, and quarries producing granite and marble. The city is also home to the Higher Industrial Institute and a school for fisheries training. The old Aswān Dam and the Aswan High Dam, which is about 7 miles (11 km) south of the city, are important structures in the city’s landscape. A museum on the island of Elephantine contains antiquities from the governorate. In 2006, the population of Aswān was 266,013.

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2 Best things to See in Aswān

Philae - Temple of Isis

Temple Of Isis At Philae
CC BY-SA 3.0 / GayleKaren

The Temple of Isis at Philae, built in Egypt's Greco-Roman Period under the reign of Ptolemy II, honors the goddess Isis, as well as Osiris and Horus. The walls of the temple showcase scenes from Egyptian mythology, including Isis reviving Osiris, giving birth to Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Philae - Temple of Isis!

Address: Philae Temple, Aswan 1, Egypt | Hours: 7am-4pm Oct-May, to 5pm Jun-Sep | Price: adult/child LE100/50

Abu Simbel temples

Abu Simbel Temples
CC BY-SA 3.0 / youssef_alam

Abu Simbel, located in Aswān muḥāfaẓah (governorate), southern Egypt, is home to two temples constructed by the pharaoh Ramses II (reigned 1279–13 BCE). The area was once the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, facing Nubia. The four colossal statues of Ramses in front of the main temple are remarkable examples of ancient Egyptian art. In the 1960s, the temples were saved from the rising waters of the Nile River caused by the Aswan High Dam, through a complex engineering feat. Carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, the temples were unknown to the outside world until their discovery in 1813 by the Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. The main temple entrance has two 66-foot (20-metre) seated figures of Ramses, each flanked by small figures representing his family. The temple, which is dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte, consists of three consecutive halls decorated with more statues of Ramses and painted scenes of his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh. The temple is famous for being illuminated by the first rays of the morning sun twice a year, on about February 22 and October 22.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Abu Simbel temples!

Address: Abu Simbel Temples, Abu Simbel, Egypt | Hours: 6am-5pm Oct-Apr, to 6pm May-Sep | Price: adult/student incl guide LE160/80

Tours and Activities from Aswān