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Visiting Philae Temple in Egypt- The Temple of Love

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We all adore a good love story, and Philae Temple in Egypt has one of the most ancient love stories of all. Philae Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Isis, her husband Osiris, and her son Horus. The Goddess Isis was the most revered Goddess of ancient Egypt. She was the Goddess of love, fertility, healing, and the moon. Visiting Philae Temple in Aswan, Egypt, is like stepping back in time, to an era long gone. One in which a female could rise to be one of the most important deities for thousands of years.

I find it fascinating that Isis is first found in the Osiris myth from the Old Kingdom, 4000 years ago. Though she was one of the oldest Gods, Isis has stood the test of time. She was a role model for women on how to be loving wives, sisters, and mothers. Her magic was legendary, and she was believed to possess power greater than all the other Gods combined. Not only that, but she continued to be worshipped during the Greek rule of Egypt. That is just incredible to me.

Something special about this temple is that it is, and always has been since it’s construction 2000 years ago, in the middle of the Nile. As soon as I heard about this floating temple, I knew I had to get there. Thankfully, the tour I was on made sure we had time here!

A photo of the side of the temple, looking up. Showing the height of Philae Temple, Aswan Egypt

Visiting Philae Temple in Aswan – The Temple of Love

The Story of Love – Philae Temple

Before we get into the main love story, Osiris was the firstborn son of Geb and Nut. Osiris, Isis, Set, Horus the Elder, and Nephthys were all siblings.

The story goes that Set murdered Osiris and after dismembering him, scattered his body parts all around the Egypt. The reason for the murder? There are various stories, one is that Osiris slept with Set’s main consort Nephthys, whereas the other is that Set was getting revenge after Osiris kicked him. Or, and the most common story, is that Set was jealous and wanted the throne his brother occupied.

After the murder Set took over as ruler of Egypt.

Isis mourned Osiris deeply, and convinced Nephthys to help her search the land for the body parts of her husband. After she finds them all (except his penis, once again depending on the story) and puts his body back together, he is revived by the magic of Isis, though not entirely, and they “posthumously” conceive their son Horus the Younger. Once Horus is conceived, Osiris goes on to the Underworld and becomes Ruler of the Dead.

After years of fighting between uncle and nephew to see who would be ruler, Horus wins.

There’s of course so much more to this story depending who you ask (if is legend after-all), but getting to walk among this beautiful Island Temple, knowing that thousands of people would embark on pilgrimages to worship here, it just made this temple feel a bit more special.

Fun Facts About Philae Temple!

  • The last hieroglyphs written by the Ancient Egyptians were written on the walls at Philae.
  • Isis was the first virgin Goddess, having conceived her son Horus through magic.
  • This temple is one of several historical monuments that UNESCO had preserved in Aswan and surrounding areas. Philae Temple was moved piece by piece to preserve it.
  • Philae Temple was one of the last places where the ancient Egyptian religion lived on, since Christianity came through the land when the Romans took over.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Philae Obelisk is in England. Explorer and Egyptologist William John Bankes had it moved to Dorset in 1821, where it still stands today.

Me standing, leaning back on a large pillar, in front of the water at Philae Temple in Aswan Egypt

Where is the Philae Temple Complex?

Located in Aswan, right on the Nile, you’ll find Philae Temple. Since UNESCO helped have them moved, Philae Temple is now 12 km south of Aswan, on Agilkia island.

Egypt has always experienced the Nile flooding yearly from June to September, which the ancient Egyptians called Akhet. In an effort to control this flooding, the Aswan Dam was built. The first of which was built in 1902. Due to the dam Philae Temple became inaccessible for most of the year, the only time it wasn’t underwater was between August and December.

To save the hieroglyphics and carvings from salts in the water, between 1972 and 1980 the Egyptian Government and UNESCO (with foreign aid) helped save Philae Temple, and had it moved piece by piece to where it is now, safely above the water.

Why is the Philae Temple in Aswan important?

I found Aswan to be beautiful, and I would love to have spent more time here. The history (as is everywhere in Egypt) was fascinating, but what I found most special at Philae Temple was that not just the Ancient Egyptians are represented.

No, you can tell that the Greeks (did you know that the Ptolemies, Cleopatra VII’s family, were actually Macedonian Greeks?) were doing their best to pretend that they were pure Egyptians, and tried to make this temple as Egyptian as possible. Basically, they were trying to impersonate the Egyptians.

Philae Temple in Aswan was caught in between multiple civilizations. There were the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and eventually, Christianity. The temple continued to be a place of worship until the time of Justinian I, who turned the temple into a church.

All of these civilizations are represented here, and make the temple something special.

Tips for visiting!

Getting to Philae Temple is part of the experience! It’s not every day you go by boat to a temple.

You catch a boat from a dock that has markets around it, and it takes about 15 minutes to get to the island. This was a really fun boat ride; the air was cooler on the water, and the view of the island coming up was just lovely!

I really enjoyed these markets before and after you got on the boat but I will say, they were very insistent here. I felt more stress from the vendors here than I did in Cairo.

There is also a very small market on the island itself. Here I got a beautiful crocodile bangle bracelet. The man tried to rip me off, and switched a bangle in perfect condition off my wrist for one of bad condition when I wouldn’t pay the price he wanted. I didn’t notice until I was on the boat back, but thankfully when we traveled with Alyssa from My Life’s A Travel Movie, she had locals traveling with us. One in particular, our Egyptologist, made sure that I got my bangle exchanged for the perfect one. He had it brought to the hotel for me that evening. If it weren’t for him, I would never have gotten the good bangle back. So if you shop in one of these markets, take care to watch yourself and others, they’re sneaky!

Another tip is that this island is filled with cats! They all seemed to be well taken care of, except for one poor sick cat. But the cats are clean and friendly, so don’t be surprised if you’re sitting in the shade drinking a mango drink and a few cats come over for some snuggles!

View of the hieroglyphics on the walls of Philae Temple

Looking out at the temple from under the archway at Philae

Four cats under our table, lounging

How To Get To Philae Temple

You’re in Aswan, woohoo! Enjoy your time in this Nile town.

There are several ways to get to Philae Temple. The first being that many group tours will stop here, so if you’re on a group tour, there’s a good chance you’ll be visiting. With Abu Simbel being just a few hours drive away, it’s a popular tour stop.

If you’re on your own though, you have a few choices.

The first being the Sound and Light show. These shows are popular in Egypt, and while I didn’t partake in one myself, I definitely see the appeal. You can listen to the show in various languages, and you get to learn about the history of the temple, while getting a show of the temples being lit up. Here is a link to the website!

If you’re not interested in the Sound and Light Show, you can take a taxi from your hotel to the Marina Philae Temple, and from here buy tickets and catch one of the local official boats to bring you over.

Admission costs 50 EGP, or about 3 USD.

Other Posts To Read About Egypt!

The Best Places You Need To Visit In Egypt
A Journey To The White Desert

 

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Brooklyn standing in front of the pyramids of Giza

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn. Like many, I thought my purpose in life was to go to university, settle down and have kids. But that is not me. 

My aim is to inspire you to travel as much as you can while you can, whether that be through au pair work, or on your limited vacation days. It CAN be done. This world is incredible, let’s explore it!

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