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Philae Temple

Visiting Philae Temple: What to Know Before You Go

Philae Temple is located in Aswan City. It has an impressive design, Beautiful granite, polished stones, various shapes, and roofs with beautiful astrological designs. All things that did not exist in the ancient world.

The oldest building at Philae was built during the 25th Dynasty, and it was later converted into a temple of Isis, which still occupies a large part of the island.

The temple also contains a “mamisi,” which means “birth house,” and a small chapel for the groom of the goddess Osiris. Nectanebo II built the first building.

From the door of the second tower, you can walk up a flight of stairs to the Hall of Ten Columns, built by Ptolemy IX Evargate II. After passing through other rooms, you reach the sanctuary, an essential temple part.

Philae Temple is the ancient center of the cult of the goddess Isis. The temples of Philae were revered from the Pharaonic era until the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods, with each ruler adding to the stones here.

Philae means lover or friend in ancient Greek. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis, who had the most famous cult in the Roman Empire.

Philae Temple’s Historical Background

The name (Philae) is Greek, but locally the site is known as Anas Al-Wujud Palace, after a hero from One Thousand and One Nights. Before their gradual submergence in the reservoir created by the old Aswan High Dam after 1902, the clay-covered granitic rocks of Philae, 1,500 by 490 feet (460 by 150 meters), always rose above the highest floods.

Nile Heights. Consequently, it has attracted many builders of ancient temples and shrines. Philae, Abu Simbel, and other nearby ruins were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Since the earliest times of Egypt, the island has been sacred to the goddess Isis. The oldest known structures are those of Taharka (690-664 BC), the Kushite Pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

The oldest known temple was built by Alcetes (664-525 BC), which was dismantled and reused in Ptolemaic structures. Nectanebo II ([r. 360-343 BC]), the last Pharaoh of the Thirtieth Dynasty and the last independent local ruler of Egypt before 1952, added the existing colonnade.

The complex of the Temples of Isis was completed by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (reigned 285-246 BC) and his successor Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221 BC).

However, its decoration, which dates back to the later period of the Ptolemies and the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius (30 BC – 37 AD), was never completed.

Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) added a gate west of the complex. Other small temples or shrines dedicated to Egyptian deities include one for Imhotep and one for Hathor and chapels for Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys.

The Temple of Isis continued to flourish during the Roman era and was not closed until the reign of Justinian I (527-565 AD). At the end of Justinian’s control, the temple was converted into a church, and two more Coptic churches were built in the still flourishing city.

All these structures were thoroughly explored and strengthened (1895-1896) before they partially flooded behind the ancient Aswan Dam. In 1907, a close examination revealed that the salts in the water damaged the decorations’ paint.

When the temples reappeared after 1970 with the completion of the High Dam, it was discovered that significant damage had been done to the shrines. Therefore, a decision was made to move them to higher ground on the nearby island of Agilkia.

The island was flattened to resemble its original Philae, and the temples were rebuilt, restoring some of its original beauty before it officially reopened in 1980.

Osiris Myth

Philae Temple

All the reliefs in the great Temple of Isis show different parts of the Osiris story. In the lower part of the temple, you can see the Egyptian goddess of fertility on the outer walls. Augustus made all the decorations on the outside.

The emperor often gave gifts to the Egyptian gods while dressed as a pharaoh. The Pharaoh of the XXX dynasty, Nectanebo I, built a monastery southeast of Philia. Behind it is a beautiful Roman entrance in the form of a papyrus.

The aisles show the two small Ptolemaic-Roman temples of Arensenovis and Mandolis, which were built for the Nubian gods. Also, Ptolemy V Epiphanes built a small temple to honor Imhotep, one of the best architects in history. Trajan’s Monastery is another beautiful building close to Philae Temple.

place of pilgrimage

People believed Osiris, also known as “the one who lies in coil,” was buried in the Philae temple. That is why the island was called the “Holy Island.” The island was sacred, and only the high priests could go there. At least once in your life, you had to go on a pilgrimage to the file of the Egyptians.

This beautiful temple is on Agilika Island, south of the old Aswan Dam. You can only get there by riding one of the private motorboats. After the construction of the High Dam, which seriously threatened to submerge the temple forever, it was moved to where it is now. During the rebuilding, care was taken to preserve the lines of the original building and the way it fits into the landscape.

Philae is the name of the island where the temple is located. During the Ptolemaic Dynasty, it was the most important place of worship for the goddess Isis.

This complex was one of the few places where the ancient sect continued even after the spread of Christianity in Egypt. It was officially closed in 550 AD.

Later, the early Christians used the main temple as a place of worship. This is why some images of the ancient gods were cut off, and Christians did this to eliminate pagan photos from the site they said was their private sanctuary.

The central place to go on the island is the Temple of Isis, but other smaller temples are also worth seeing.

Like Egypt’s most popular tourist sites, the Temple of Isis is also a light and sound show. But compared to these other stunts, this one is considered one of the most impressive.

The illuminated ruins of the island create an atmosphere that is difficult to describe. It is highly recommended that you go to the site tonight to see this show.

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Description of the Temple of Isis

Philae Temple

The Temple of Isis is one of the largest temples in Egypt, occupying about a quarter of the island’s area. It is also the main island of the temple with its vast and complete towers and beautiful scenes.

Construction began during the reign of King Ptolemy II, then the other Ptolemaic kings (Ptolemy IV, V, VI, VII, XI) contributed by adding different parts to the main temple.

The temple was built in the same style as the temples of the New Kingdom, in addition to some other elements that appeared in the Greco-Roman era, such as the Mammisi (the divine birth house of Horus) and the Nilometer.

The Temple of Isis consists of the first pylon, a sizeable traditional tower with two towers, and an open courtyard leading to the second pylon.

On the left side of this courtyard is Mamisi, which contains scenes depicting the birth of the god Horus by his mother, Isis.

The second tower leads to a hypostyle hall with ten columns, then three corridors leading to the sanctuary.

The Philae Temple’s oldest remains date back to King Taharka (Twenty-fifth Dynasty), who built the first chapel for the goddess Isis.

Other monuments include Trajan’s Kiosk, the Osiris Chapel, the Temple of Horus, the Temple of Hathor, the Tiberius Gate, the Diocletian Gate, and the Temple of Augustus.

The island’s temples were neglected, and some were even destroyed after the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperors. During the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD), the main temple was converted into a church.

About the author

Egypt Planners Team is a highly experienced travel agency specializing in memorable trips to Egypt. The team comprises expert travel planners and tour guides with a deep knowledge of Egypt's history, culture, and top tourist destinations.