I loved this temple, it was such a lovely way to spend the afternoon in Aswan especially after the overnight train from Cairo. Philae Temple is located on island near the Aswan Low Dam on Lake Nasser and is dedicated to the Goddess Isis. It was such a hot day and with the train arriving four hours late into Aswan meant that we would be visiting the temple during the hottest part of the day. However cruising across the waters in our boat owned by local Nubian’s provided a small reprieve with a lovely cool breeze.
It’s quite breathtaking to see the temple from the water with it’s magnificent pylons rising up on the horizon the closer you get to the island. As the whole temple comes into view it’s surrounded by lush green trees and reeds that stand out against the blue of the sky and the warm browns of this beautiful temple. What’s even more remarkable is that like Abu Simbel this temple was also relocated to preserve it from further damage caused by flooding.
The Goddess Isis, magician, guardian, wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus can be found in almost all temples throughout Egypt. I really liked the balance between masculine and feminine when it comes to ancient Egyptian Gods, while they do seem to have a god for everything it’s an even split gender wise. This temple was built for Isis and her image is represented throughout the complex as a woman with power and wisdom. Like her special gifts as the stories go it was a magical place to visit.
The story our guide Mohamed talked of during our tour was about how she used her magic to bring her husband Osiris back to life after he was murdered and dismembered by his brother Set, it seems not even the Gods were safe from sibling rivalry. With the help of the Goddess Hathor, Isis was able to escape from Set and fly across Egypt to retrieve Osiris’s body parts that Set had scattered across the land. Using her magic she was able to put him back together with one exception, she was unable to locate his penis so she made one out of gold and brought him back to life long enough to conceive their son Horus. Osiris was then to become the God of the underworld passing judgement on those who would stand before him in the afterlife.
The design of all the temples I visited followed the same flow, as you enter you come into an open court yard that ends with pylons standing either side of an entrance that leads into another enclosed court yard. Another set of pylons stands over a second entrance where you come into a large covered hall filled with many columns. This hall proceeds an entrance into the inner sanctuary of the temple. There was also a hierarchy in place when it came to accessing the different sections of the temples. The inner sections of the temples catered to rich nobles and royalty with exception of the inner sanctuary which was reserved for priests and the Pharaoh.
Throughout the temple there are beautiful scenes on the walls and pillars decorated with hieroglyphics. The most common scenes throughout an Egyptian temple are of offerings to the Gods. In the Temple of Philae you will see Isis receiving gifts of food, lotus and oils. These beautiful scenes are well lit so it’s like they are carved out of golden stone adding to the beauty of this enchanting temple.
On reflection Isis must have been the ultimate female role model in ancient times, she was a goddess ,wife, mother and leader. In modern times she would be representative of todays women, who hold down a career, raise a family and help put their husbands back together when they come apart, metaphorically for the latter. Come visit this amazing place and admire it’s beauty and the magnificent Goddess Isis who it is dedicated to you will not be disappointed.