Aswan, lying on the eastern bank of the River Nile, is the third largest city of Egypt. It was known as 'Suno' during the Pharaonic period, which means 'the Market'. The Arabs later changed the name to Aswan. Because of its temperate climatic conditions, Aswan is a popular winter resort since the 19th century AD. Today, it is he largest mining area for iron and aluminum.
Major Tourist Attractions
Aga Khan Mausoleum
The Aga Khan Mausoleum is over the top of a hill of the West Bank. Aga Khan was the leader of the Ismaili sect and spent his winters in Aswan. The mausoleum is built like the Fatimid Tombs of Cairo and has marble from the inside.
Monastery of St Simeon (Dier Amba Sama'an)
The Monastery of St Simeon was originally built in the 10th century AD and was destroyed in 1173 AD by Salah-al-Din. Reconstructed in the 10th century AD, the missionary monks who converted the Nubians to Christianity lived in this monastery. Frescoes of the Apostle can be seen even to this day in the roofless basilica.
Tombs of the Nobles
The Tombs of the Nobles belong to the princes of the Old Kingdom and lies on the Northern hills of the West Bank. They are carved out of rock and their interiors are decorated with bright wall paintings portraying the scenes from everyday life. The hieroglyphic biographies and inscriptions are about the journey of the nobles into Africa.
The Unfinished Obelisk
The Unfinished Obelisk lies at the place where a crack was found when it was being carved out from the rock. Measuring 41 m in length and 4 sq m at the base, it was probably being built as a partner to the Lateran Obelisk at Karnak now in Rome. After its completion, the obelisk would have measured 120 ft in height and 1150 tons in weight. The tourists can also visit the nearby Fatimid Cemetery where hundred of mud-brick tombs of the 9th century AD.
The Elephantine Island divides the Nile River into two channels just opposite Aswan. The small museum set amidst manicured gardens can be reached by a short walk through the Nubian villages. The ancient Egyptians who believed it to be near the source of the Nile established the ruins of Abu. The ruins of the ancient temples include Temple of Khnum originally built during the Old Kingdom, Graeco-roman Necropolis and Temple of Satet built by Queen Hatshepsut.
The High Dam is a known worldwide as an engineering marvel. Built in the1960s, it produces electricity and provides water for irrigation to entire Egypt together with the Aswan Dam, which is 6 km downstream. The dam makes for a splendid sight for the visitors to witness.
Kalabsha Temple and other monuments from Nubia were shifted to their present location in 1970. These structures were built of sandstone by the Roman Emperor Octavius Augustus and dedicated to the Fertility God Mandulis. The Kiosk of Qertassi with its two Hathor-headed columns and Beit-al-Wali built by Ramesses II were also moved here.
Isle Temple of Philae
Philae Temple was also dismantled and shifted to Agilika lsland about 500 m from its original place on Philae Island due to the construction of the High Dam. Dedicated to the Goddess lsis the temple has various shrines and sanctuaries including the Temple of Hathor, the Birth House and two pylons. The Sound and Light Show is organized every night, which offers a divine experience to the visitors as floodlit buildings are projected against the volcanic rocks and water surrounding them.
How to Reach
By Air: There are frequent flights to Aswan and the internationals airport is only 15 km from the city.
By Train: There are daily trains from Cairo and Luxor to Aswan. The railway station is right in the city center.