The Small Temple of Abu Simbel

The Temple of Hathor: A Tribute to Queen Nefertari and Hathor

In the shadow of the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel lies the smaller yet equally captivating The Small Temple of Abu Simbel {Temple of Hathor}, dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari.

The facade of the Hathor Chapel at Abu Simbel with six standing statues.
The Hathor Chapel stands as a monument to Queen Nefertari at Abu Simbel.

The Temple's Distinctive Entrance

  • Statuary Arrangement: The entrance is adorned with statues of Ramses II and, notably, Queen Nefertari. It’s unique for a Pharaonic temple to feature statues of the queen at the same size as the king, indicating Ramses’s profound affection for Nefertari.
  • Royal Family Depictions: Flanking these statues are smaller figures of their princes and princesses, reinforcing the familial aspect of this sacred space.

Interior Design and Symbolism

  • Simpler Yet Significant: While less ornate than the Great Temple, the interior walls of the Temple of Hathor depict Nefertari and Ramses engaging in religious rituals, honoring Hathor and Mut.
  • Deification of Nefertari: Echoing the celestial depiction of Ramses in the Great Temple, Nefertari is also portrayed in a divine light, reinforcing her esteemed status.
  • Warrior Imagery: Carvings of Ramses as a warrior adorn the walls, showcasing his prowess and victories.
  • Pillar Design: Unlike the Great Temple, the hall here features three rows of two pillars each, adorned with Hathor heads, adding to the temple’s distinctive aesthetic.

The facade of Queen Nefertari's Temple at Abu Simbel with six standing statues.
The majestic entrance to Queen Nefertari's Temple at Abu Simbel.

The Small Temple of Abu Simbel Inner Sanctum and Surrounding Features

  • Hathor’s Representation: A prominent carving of Hathor, depicted as a sacred cow-goddess, emerges from the Western Mountain, symbolizing rebirth and nurturing.
  • Antechamber Imagery: Surrounding the antechamber are vivid depictions of Hathor in her sacred boat, with side chambers resembling caves, carved directly from the rock.

Additional Monuments in the Vicinity

  • Historical Inscriptions: Below the temple cliffs, stones with inscribed names of Nubian officials provide a glimpse into the administrative aspects of the era.
  • Sun-Court Relics: Near the Great Temple’s northern edge, remnants of a sun-court are visible.
  • The Marriage Stele: This significant stele records the marriage contract between Ramses II and a Hittite princess, marking a pivotal diplomatic and personal event in Ramses’s reign.

The Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel, while smaller than its neighboring Great Temple, stands as a unique and profound testament to both the divine reverence accorded to Nefertari and the rich religious symbolism of the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

Again, just like Ramesses was depicted as a celestial king within the great temple, Nefertari is also depicted as a deified queen inside the temple of Hathor.

Created On March 18, 2020

Updated On January 24, 2024

Abu Simble Travel Guide
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Overlooking the gentle embrace between river and land, this spot offers a quiet retreat amidst nature's stark beauty
Sun Festivals
The awe-inspiring facade of Abu Simbel, with Ramesses II's colossal statues standing sentinel in the Egyptian sun

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