Philae Temple, Egypt | The Jewel of the Nile

  • Dennis Bunnik
  • 11 Jun 20

Tucked away on an island on the Nile a short boat ride from Aswan lies one of the most beautiful sights in all of Egypt. It’s not the biggest or the grandest of the Ancient Egyptian monuments. It’s not even the most important. Yet most travellers to Egypt come away saying that it was one of their favourite spots. It is Philae Temple.

A touch of Philae magic!

Philae is dedicated to Isis, the goddess of magic. It was originally located on a smaller nearby island but when the original Aswan Dam was built it was subject to flooding – in fact at certain times of the year you could row right into the temple! Thus during the 1960’s in a massive international effort led by UNESCO Philae Temple (all 47,000 stones) were moved to its current location about 500m from its original site.

Some peace and quiet

You reach Philae by boat – the ride being just long enough for the Nubian boatmen to offer some of their local handmade crafts and to enjoy the scenery. On the island itself, beyond the small dock, the hawkers are not permitted. This and the fact that it is surrounded by the river adds to its peaceful and serene feel.

The carving of the hieroglyphics are equal to those of the other major temples but somehow they seem more beautiful. Certainly there seem to be more images of goddesses here rather than gods – Hathour, the goddess of beauty who has the head of a cow, can be seen everywhere. The theory was that the larger the eyes the more beautiful the woman – and as cows had large eyes they were the symbol of beauty. Just don’t try calling a woman a cow today!

Our Egyptologist guide, Eman showed us her favourite parts of the temple and explained the story of Isis, the mother of the falcon god, Horus. To hear the full story simply book one of our tours and Eman will gladly explain it to you. She’ll also show you the monument carved into the side of the temple for some British soldiers who were stationed nearby in the 1800’s and died of cholera.


Discover Philae for yourself

After a short while Eman told us each to go our own way, in the nicest possible terms because this is a temple that you really just want to soak up.  Wandering through the courtyard, past numerous columns it’s easy to escape the crowds and just take it all in. Around every corner you have the most beautiful views over the Nile.

On the far side of the island looking back over the original site of Philae is a small coffee shop.  The coffee was excellent and I could have sat there all afternoon. But then Eman reminded me I needed to make the video so we set off to do the filming while the rest of the group continued to linger.

To see the fruits of our labour and the beauty of Philae click here.

Photo credit: Dennis Bunnik (Bunnik Tours)