The solar alignment upon the Temples of Abu Simbel celebrates the birthday and coronation of the great Pharaoh Ramses II. Today, on February 22nd, 2022, it also puts this sacred sight in a new light.
Divine providence was a fact of life to the Ancient Egyptians, as natural and unquestionable as the touch of the desert wind, the flow of the Nile river, or the rising of the sun. And so it is through divine providence that the Ancient Egyptians celebrated Ramses II, one of if not the greatest pharaohs in the nation's history. At the Temples of Abu Simbel, the towering monuments that loom over Aswan with four colossal statues of the pharaoh himself standing guard at one of its entrances, the Ancient Egyptian people commemorated two milestones in particular - each tied to the same sacred, cosmic event. One of which is taking place on this very day.
Whether through ingenious engineering or a blessing from the gods - or perhaps a little of both - the birthday of Ramses II and the anniversary for his coronation coincide with a solar alignment, which occurs at the exact same times every year, tied inextricably to the pharaoh's glory. Every year - on February 22nd and October 22nd, without fail - the rays of the sun shine down the corridor of the Great Temple of Ramses II. There the light travels until it reaches the Holy of Holies, four statues representing Ramses II, the chief god Amun, the sun god Ra, and the god of craftsmen Ptah. The first three are illuminated by the light of the sun, while Ptah - being associated with darkness - is left in the shadows.
So it is that today - on February 22nd, 2022 - the Egyptian people will gather once more around Abu Simbel to celebrate this solar alignment. Although it has been an attraction for as long as can be remembered, this year's solar alignment will be met with a festival to match the grandeur of the occasion. A special concert will take place at the sacred temples, after the completion of an extensive restoration effort. While pandemic measures do not allow visitors to get close to the concert, its sounds will resonate with the scale of this celestial phenomenon - one that will ring across Egypt as it continues to celebrate its antiquities, its renovations, and its preservation of its ancient traditions.