Philae was originally an island in the middle of the Nile; south of Aswan, which housed the Temple of Isis and other important monuments. All of the temples and monuments have been removed now and relocated to Agilika Island in the river Nile, Southern Egypt. The temples were built in honour of Isis and Osiris, but now in their new location they no longer face the right way to face the Gods.However, moving them was essential in order to save them from flooding. They were moved by UNESCO in the seventies. The first dam was built in the early 1900’s but it wasn’t until the 1970s that many nations attempted to save the Temple and find a new location. Philae Island is now buried under Lake Nasser. So the title of Philae refers only to the temple complex, which has been relocated to Agilika. It is the centre of the cult of Isis, Osiris and Horus during the Ptolemic period in Egyptian history.
To save the temple a dam was built and water was drained from the temple. The temple itself was taken apart and dismantled and carried in bits to Agilika from Philae. The stones were placed in the exact same position and location. This was a massive task which took nearly 10 years to complete; it was reopened in its new location in 1980.
The temple of Isis, which is the main and most important building of Philae dominates, and consists of a first pylon or two towers and an open forecourt and this leads to a second pylon or tower.Isis was the consort of Osiris as well as his sister and had many names including “Great Mother of All, Gods of Nature” and “Goddess of ten Thousand Names.” She represented women, purity and sexuality. Worship of Isis would become the greatest challenge to Christianity. There are various scenes depicted within the temple and its grounds of Isis, Osiris and their son Horus.
The Temples and other monuments were built during the reign of King Ptolemy II and then continued with the addition of new parts over time. Other elements were added later, but using different styles during the Greko/Roman period.There are other incredible monuments here as well as the Temple of Isis and all are worthy of further exploration.
Like most places in Egypt the sun is very hot, and the ground underfoot is uneven, therefore it is advised to bring protective head wear, sunglasses, plenty of water and sensible shoes.
There is a cafe providing plenty of shade should you need it where you can get a cool drink after visiting the temple.
Getting to Agilika is by motorboat and is easier to visit as part of an organised trip, which won’t cost much more than a trip there alone. There is a ticket office at a gate to the boat landing and entrance to the temple is 50 Egyptian pounds.
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