Aswan, originally called Assuan, is the capital of the Aswan Governorate in Egypt’s south. Aswan is a bustling market and tourist destination on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract, just north of the Aswan Dams. The current metropolis has grown to encompass the once distinct settlement of Elephantine Island.
Aswan is far more laid-back and intimate than Cairo and Luxor. Aswan is the smallest of the Nile’s three main tourist destinations. Because it is the southernmost of the three, it has a high population of Nubians, who were largely evacuated from their homeland in the Lake Nasser-flooded region. The majority of the Obelisks visible in Luxor were taken from granite quarries near Aswan. The ancient Egyptians used Aswan as their entryway to Africa.
Aswan – Info Card
|TIME ZONE :||EST (UTC+2)|
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes|
|RELIGION :||Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%|
|AREA :||(+20) 97|
|ELEVATION :||194 m (636 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||24°05′20″N 32°53′59″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.22|
• Female: 49.78
|ETHNIC :||Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4%|
Tourism in Aswan
Aswan Town And The East Bank
- Nubian Museum (opposite the Basma Hotel, south of the Old Cataract Hotel, at the southern edge of Aswan town on Sharia Abtal al-Tahrir – approximately a half hour walk from the city centre.). 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nubian antiquities salvaged before the inundation of Nubia are shown in this well-organized exhibit.
- Unfinished Obelisk (South of Aswan). The world’s biggest ancient obelisk, cut out of bedrock. It would have been 42 meters (120 feet) long and weighed about 1,200 tons if completed.
- Fatimid Cemetery (Southern end of Aswan). The dilapidated cemetery bears witness to the Fatimid empire’s fading past splendour.
- Ferial Gardens (Southern end of Corniche). You must stroll around the Kornish Al Nile (Corniche) at least once while in Aswan. It’s a nice walk, made much better by the fact that you can walk directly into the Ferial Gardens at the southern end. They are a park that is both attractive and calming.
The River And Islands
- Elephantine Island: Nubian Villages & Aswan Museum. This island is home to the Nubian settlements of Siou and Koti. The Nilometers and the Temples of Sati, Khnum (ancient rams-head divinity), and Pepinakht-Heqaib are also located here. On the island, there is a Movenpick resort. The Aswan Museum, located on the island’s southern tip, contains artifacts discovered during Elephantine Island excavations.
- Aswan Botanical Gardens (On the entirety of Kitcheners Island to the west of Elephantine Island). In the 1890s, Lord Kitchener, who owned the 6.8-hectare island, turned it into a botanical park. Hundreds of plant species and palm trees may be found here, as well as birds. A Felucca trip is required to get there.
- Seheyl Island (Just north of the old Aswan Dam). 7AM to 4:00PM. Friendly Nubian villages. It is well-known for its beautiful beaded jewelry. The Famine Stela is also located here. More than 200 inscriptions from the 18th dynasty may be found on this cliff.
- Tombs of the Nobles. 8AM to 4:00PM. Princes’ rock-hewn graves from the Old Kingdom to the Roman era may be found on the northern highlands of the west bank. Important biographical writings may be found in the tombs of the 6th Dynasty, some of which constitute connected family complexes. The tombs are adorned on the inside with vibrant wall murals depicting daily scenes, hieroglyphic biographies, and inscriptions detailing the noblemen’s trips into Africa.
- Kubbet el-Hawa (on top of the hill above the Tombs of the Nobles). A local sheikh and holy man’s little shrine / grave. The hike is rewarded by breathtaking views of Aswan, the Nile River, and the surrounding environment, which are evocatively captured in the place name’s Arabic translation, “the dome of the wind.”
- Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan (High up in the west bank). Tomb of the Islami sect’s 48th iman and his wife. Although closed to the public, it is visible from the outside.
- Monastery of St Simeon. October to May: 8AM-4:00PM; June-September:7:00AM-5:00PM. The monastery of St. Simeon has a lengthy history dating back to the 7th century, and it served as a Christian bastion in southern Egypt until Saladin destroyed it in 1173. It formerly housed 300 monks and could accommodate up to 100 pilgrims at a time while it was still in service. The monastery served as a stronghold and was enclosed by a 10 meter high wall. After Saladin’s devastation, it seems that the monastery was never used again. To reach here, take a camel ride or walk from the Noble Tombs.
- The High Dam. Despite its importance as a piece of infrastructure, the Aswan High Dam is (to put it mildly) a disappointment, especially for dam fans.
- Philae Temple (Agilkia Island). This was the final ancient temple created in the traditional Egyptian architectural style, and it was built to worship Isis. The construction of the temple started about 690 BC. Following the inundation of Lake Nasser, it was relocated from its former position on Philae Island to its present location on Agilkia Island. Philae, as well as a number of other temples that currently dot the banks of Lake Nasser, were transported by a large international UNESCO team. A short distance distant, the submerged original island can be seen, accentuated by the steel columns utilized in the relocation procedure. Don’t miss the Sound and Light performance at night, which is the least corny of the Sound and Light “extravaganzas,” as seen in the photo on the right. On your feet, keep an eye out for the incredibly imaginative guards who will do all they can to get into your photographs or point out the hieroglyphics that you can easily see yourself, all for a baksheesh(tip)! The temple was also repurposed as a Christian church, with crosses cut into earlier hieroglyph reliefs and figures of Egyptian gods damaged with care. Graffiti from the 1800s may be found.
- Kalabsha Temple. This temple and its accompanying remains, like Philae, were relocated by UNESCO to avoid being flooded by Lake Nasser. During Emperor Augustus’ reign, the major temple was dedicated to the Nubian fertility and sun deity Marul. Don’t miss the Kiosk of Qirtasi and Ramesses II’s magnificent Temple of Beit al-Wali.
- Abu Simbel. The majority of visitors use Aswan as a base to see this magnificent temple. A convoy leaves at 4 a.m. and is generally organized by your travel agency. For further information, see the page on Abu Simbel.
- Aswan International Sculpture Park. Every spring, the International Sculpture Symposium brings together sculptors from all over the globe to show their work. The pieces are all constructed in Aswan (on the Basma Hotel’s terrace), then transported to this location and displayed next to each other in front of the old quarry.
Climate of Aswan
As with the rest of Egypt, Aswan enjoys a scorching desert environment. Summer days in Aswan and Luxor are the hottest of any city in Egypt. Aswan is one of the world’s hottest, sunniest, and driest cities. During the summer (June, July, August, and September), average high temperatures are consistently over 40 °C (104.0 °F), while average low temperatures are constantly above 25 °C (77.0 °F). Summers in the United States are lengthy, hot, and humid.
During the coldest month of the year, average high temperatures stay over 23 °C (73.4 °F), while average low temperatures remain above 8 °C (46.4 °F). Winters are short, sweet, and sweltering. Winter is quite nice and pleasurable, however summer is painfully hot and humid, despite the fact that desert heat is dry.
Aswan’s climate is exceptionally dry all year, with an average annual precipitation of less than 1 mm (0 in). The desert city is one of the driest in the world, and rain doesn’t fall every year; the last time it rained there was seven years ago in early 2001. With an average relative humidity of just 26%, Aswan is one of the least humid cities on the earth, with a high mean of 42 percent in the winter and a lowest mean of 16 percent in the summer.
Aswan has a highly clear, bright, and sunny environment throughout the year, with little seasonal change, and around 4,000 hours of yearly sunlight, which is quite near to the maximum potential sunshine length. Aswan is one of the world’s sunniest cities.