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The Story of Aswan

Aswan, Egypt is an opportunity to get to know more about Egypt in a relaxed and rich way. The city offers a pleasant climate, the opportunity to sail on the calm waters of the Nile, to visit ancient temples and meet fascinating people, the Nubians!

Where is Aswan, Egypt located?

In southern Egypt on the banks of the Nile, precisely at the country's first river waterfall.

What is the story of Aswan, Egypt?

Aswan was formerly called Taseti and was later renamed Syene, which means "market". The reason is because the city was a commercial point located on the border between Egypt and Nubia, present-day Sudan. Ivory, animals, gold, wood, incense and other materials entered the city which also was a gateway to the rest of Africa. The ancient Egyptians and the Nubians maintained a relationship of rivalry, but with moments of peace interspersed. 

During the English colonization in Egypt, the city concentrated foreign forces to contain revolts in Sudan, and it was only after the consolidation of Egypt as a Republic in 1953 that the Nubian territory was divided between Egypt and Sudan.

Who are the Nubians in Aswan, Egypt?

Nubia may have been divided, but the Nubian people continued to inhabit the region. They are one of the oldest civilization in the world, with their own writing and language that are still passed on from generation to generation as a way of keeping their traditions alive.

Therefore, it is impossible to speak of Aswan without talking about the Nubians. Much of what we see in the city today come from the relationship between Egypt with these people, sometimes trying to control them, other times giving them autonomy.

Currently, Aswan has many tourist attractions and offers a peaceful environment that attracts many tourists, but undoubtedly the merit for the hospitality goes to the Nubians who, along with the beauty of the Nile, are the stars of Aswan. With their colourful houses, handicrafts and welcoming spirit, they delight everyone who passes by.

What to do in Aswan?

Philae Temple: one of the highlights of Aswan, this temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis, goddess of fertility and motherhood. The temple was one of the last built by the ancient Egyptian royals before the country had Ptolemaic rulers. On its walls, visitors will be able to know the history of the temple and the beautiful love story of Isis and Osiris. It was located on Philae Island and was relocated to Agilkia Island in the 1960s due the construction of the Aswan High Dam, otherwise the temple would be flooded completely.

Abu Simbel:  The Abu Simbel temples are not exactly in Aswan, it takes about 2h-3h by car to get there, but this attraction is what attracts most visitors to the city. Like Philae, Abu Simbel's temples also moved, a million-dollar and highly accurate operation that was supported by UNESCO. These temples carved into the rocks are the second most visited tourist attraction in Egypt after the Pyramids of Giza, and a masterpiece of architecture in the Pharaonic period.

Nubian Village: This is a colourful and high-spirited island that offers the spirit of Aswan and an extremely pleasant tour. Visitors may enjoy the opportunity to take photos in front of the various houses of bright colours and geometric shapes and buy original handicrafts made by the Nubians. In addition, the place is famous for having crocodiles and there is a museum dedicated to them. Visitors can even pet the creatures.

Unfinished Obelisk: Located in the old quarry of the city, this obelisk would have been the largest in Egypt if completed (42 meters high), but a crack interrupted the works. It is believed that it was commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut. Although incomplete, the obelisk is a complementary attraction that helps us understand how the stone extraction process worked at that time.

Aswan High Dam: This dam is the second built in the city (but bigger) to solve the floods caused by the Nile and supply the country's demand during periods of drought. The construction is impressive for its size (3.5 km long) and it was entirely made of granite. 

Nubian Museum: This is an interesting stop to learn more about the Nubians and ancient Egyptians. The exhibition is quite didactic and chronologically explains the culture and history of these people.

Felluca ride on the Nile River: Fellucas are sailing boats on the Nile and an opportunity to relax and enjoy the beauty of Aswan in an original way. 

Botanical Garden: Another place to relax and enjoy nature. The Botanical Garden of Aswan has more than 400 species of vegetation from around the world, 750 meters long and is located on Kitchener Island. Take the felluca ride to get there.

How to get to Aswan, Egypt?

From Cairo to Aswan: go by plane (about 1h travel) or train (about 11h travel).

From Luxor to Aswan: most visitors who travel from Luxor to Aswan do so by taking a cruise, in which case you don't have to worry about the route. Cruises range from 3 to 8 days. Another option is by car (250km of distance between the two cities), in this case check the transfer with your hotel. Last, you can take a train (lower quality than the trains that departure from Cairo).