Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunrise in the Abu Simbel sanctuary

Al Massry Al Youm (Andrew Bossone)

With photos.

At exactly 6:20 AM, the first beams of light fall on the sanctuary.

The Abu Simbel Sun Festival occurs biannually, on 22 October and 22 February, dates on which the sun shines directly into the temple's sanctuary. Many people wait to go inside the sanctuary and two troupes perform music and dance for about an hour until officials allow the visitors to enter.

Some people are confused about whether they will even get into the temple to see the site.

"I hope it's beautiful, I hope," says a tourist from Holland.

The police have a considerable presence at the event, creating a rope corridor for tourists and another for VIPs and officials. The window of just six minutes of sunlight in the sanctuary passes quickly as visitors are ushered, in a circle, around the interior. Men shout "No photos!" but the clicking of cameras can still be heard.

The long wait for entry far exceeds visitors' actual view of the sun on the sanctuary statues, which is over in just a few seconds as ushers keep the line moving.

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