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The Aswan High Dam is an important symbol of Egypt's development and economy, for sure. But the new landmark would be responsible for changing the current configuration of some touristic attractions.
Because of the dam's construction, temples changed place and an artificial lake was born. We will tell everything you need to know and explain how the Aswan High Dam became an attraction!
It is a dam built in the 60s during the government of president Gamal Abdel Nasser to benefit the country.
Where is the Aswan High Dam located?
In Aswan, Upper Egypt, at the northern border between Egypt and Sudan.
Why is the Aswan High Dam so important?
Because it was meant to generate more electricity to the country and to finally put an end on the problems caused by the Nile River annual flooding, which had been a problem since the pharaonic era. This was a very serious issue because if the flooding was too strong, this would mean the destruction of plantations; if they were too weak, then the plantations would not be irrigated enough and the harvest would be affected. Either way the consequences were irreparable for the population, and the country could pass through moments of hunger.
In modern days, as population started to grow a new problem was added: the need to generating more electric potential. The construction of the dam was presented as a solution to both issues, even though the idea itself was not new - even the British, during the occupation period in Egypt, raised the matter. Yet it was still necessary to balance some pros and cons.
The most obvious pros were that the main goals were achieved: the dam brought great hydroelectric potential to Egypt and farmers were benefited - from the finalization of the dam on, they would finally irrigate the plantations according to their particular needs, without depending on the intensity of the river's floods.
But of course everything has a down side, and lands in the Nile delta were negatively affected. Because there was weaker flux of water, the land's irrigation decreased, and so the fertility. Some health problems also started to pop up, and the local population of Aswan reported several cases of schistosomiasis, with the parasites living in the waters of Lake Nasser.
Last but not least, Egypt had to borrow large sums to finance the works, which led to some political and financial issues.
What is Lake Nasser?
It is the artificial lake that emerged with the construction of the dam. The dam is about 4km long and the lake was named after President Gamal Abdel Nasser as a tribute. It is currently a tourist attraction in itself, offering cruises and fishing activities.
How did the Aswan Dam affect the ancient temples?
The construction of the Aswan High Dam seemed to be a great idea but there was still a 1 million dollar question to be answered: since there were many archaeological sites within the perimeter of the works - and that would end up submerged - how could they be saved?
That's when a massive - and, why not say, pharaonic - plan was built and applied. The Egyptian government in partnership with UNESCO put their forces together to save some temples, among them Abu Simbel and Philae.
During the impressive work, the temples were removed from their original location and relocated in places where they would be safe. And while many were skeptical about the success of such plan, it actually worked. It was necessary thousands of dollars, hundreds of men workforce and extreme precision to cut the stones in blocks of up to 40 tons and refit them precisely.
Unfortunately, not all landmarks were lucky enough and other temples at risk could were lost. Well, they still exist but currently are found at the bottom of Lake Nasser.
Is it worth to visit the Aswan High Dam?
It is a dam, so its importance is linked to the history of the country. It is not necessarily a must-see if you are tight in time but usually most of tours include a visit to the dam to enrich your knowledge since the dam is now forever linked to some temples, such as Philae and Abu Simbel.