The cult of Isis lasted until the 6th century A.D., when the Roman Emperor of the East, Justinian I, prohibited it. But many monuments were left for posterity in her honor. The Temple of Philae ( Philae) is undoubtedly the most important temple dedicated to Isis preserved in Egypt.

History

The importance of Isis in the pantheon of Egyptian gods spanned several centuries and transcended the dynasties of the pharaohs themselves. In fact, it continued with the Greek era and with some Roman emperors such as Augustus, Tiberius, Trajan and Hadrian, who ordered to continue building more temples, sculptures and buildings in honor of the goddess of love and powerful magician, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.

Originally located on the island of Philae and later moved to the neighboring island of Agilkia (both south of Aswan), it is one of the most beautiful and best preserved temples of the Pharaonic era. To its architectural and ornamental charm, we can add the charm of its location: in the middle of an island that can only be reached by boat.

It is not a single, isolated temple but a monumental complex in which the main temple is dedicated to Isis and occupies the central position. The other temples of Arensnufis, Imhotep, Augustus or Hathor, are subordinate to that of the goddess and are located transversally in relation to the main axis.

As with the Temple of Luxor or the temples of Abu Simbel, the Temple of Philae can also be visited while enjoying a sound and light show at night. It is a performance highlighted by a play of cold and warm colors, with images projected on the walls and immersive and immersive sounds, all designed to make the visit magical and for the reliefs of the columns and their details and inscriptions to acquire their maximum clarity and expression.

Curiosities of the Temple of Philae

  • Join the pieces of Osiris. There is a legend that says that after being killed by his brother, Osiris was torn to pieces and his body scattered throughout the country. Isis took it upon herself to gather all the pieces of her beloved, to collect them and shelter them inside the Temple of Philae to reconstruct his body.
  • A Christian past. From Justinian I until the 12th century the temple functioned for a time as a Christian church in honor of St. Stephen. With the arrival of Islam in Egypt, the temple was abandoned until its modern restoration for tourism.
  • Displaced temple. The temple today is not located in what was its original site. It had to be moved very close after the Aswan Dam was built and to prevent the temple from being flooded. It was removed stone by stone with meticulous care and respecting the original layout.
  • The permanence of hieroglyphs. The last documented inscription in hieroglyphic writing is preserved in the Temple of Philae. It is an invocation of the god Mandulis located on Hadrian’s gate and dated 304 AD, when the demotic script was already predominant in the region.
  • The papyrus library. One of the most curious rooms of the Temple of Philae, for what it represented in Pharaonic times, is its library, intended to preserve sacred texts on papyrus used by the priests for their daily worship.
  • Testimonies of vandalism. In the small square that precedes the entrance to the temple there are many carved crosses, from the time when the Christians dominated the region and decided to vandalize the site. On other walls of the temple, there are centuries-old graffiti, from the first modern tourists who came to the area, mostly French and Greeks from more than 100 years ago.

How to get to the Temple of Philae

The only way to reach this temple is by boat as it is located on an island. If you go on your own and you are only interested in seeing the Temple of Philae, you can hire water cabs from Aswan. Another option is to book a guided tour in a pack that includes this temple, the Aswan Dam and the Unfinished Obelisk.

Schedules

Normal visiting hours for the Temple of Philae are from Monday to Sunday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. The schedule of the night shows varies according to the season, but they are generally held between 21:00 and 22:00.

Visit prices

The entrance fee, if you go on your own, is 100 EGP for adults and 50 EGP for accredited students. If you are interested in hiring the light and sound show you have to pay an additional 125 EGP.

The price of the pack that includes the Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam and Unfinished Obelisk, depending on the agency you hire, ranges between 55 and 65 €.

Regarding the photos, we give you good news: here you will not have to buy any separate ticket and you can take as many pictures as you want.

Photos of the Temple of Philae

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