Temple of Philae
Located on a peaceful island and dedicated to the goddess of love, the Temple of Isis was almost lost in floods when the Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s. Thankfully it was rescued, and it is now one of Egypt's most beautiful and best preserved ancient sanctuaries.
Myths and legends
The Temple of Isis was originally located upon the island of Philae, which meant "the end" in Ancient Egypt language and marked the southernmost boundary of the historic nation. It was one of the last temples dedicated to the cult of Isis, who was worshipped for bringing her husband Osiris back to life after he was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. Iris and Osiris went on to have a son, Horus, who was one of the most important Ancient Egyptian deities, and the goddess therefore earned the title "Mother of God".
When the Aswan Dam was constructed in the 1960s, Philae Island and the temple perched upon it were almost completely lost underwater. Thanks to the efforts of UNESCO and the Egyptian government, the Temple of Isis was painstakingly taken apart and rebuilt on higher ground, in its current location on Agilkia Island.
Despite flooding and vandalism by early Christians, the Temple of Isis is one of Egypt's most spectacular sanctuaries. The columns of its hypostyle hall are amazingly well-preserved, and reliefs like the carvings of musical scenes in the Temple of Hathor have retained much of their ancient beauty. A favourite of Victorian artists was the unfinished Kiosk of Trajan, a pavilion also known as the "bed of Pharaoh".
Visiting the Temple of Isis
A taxi (20 minute drive) or a horse-drawn carriage from Aswan to the boat dock for the Temple of Isis should usually cost around LE 80 to LE 100 per vehicle, including a visit to the Unfinished Obelisk (on the way) and the Aswan Dam (another 20 minutes). You then hop on a boat to get onto Agilkia Island.
On a cruise
Whether you're travelling on an all-inclusive cruise and exploring the whole of Egypt, or taking a shorter trip down the Nile, most cruises make a stop in this area to visit the Philae Temple:
Combined day trip
For the most hassle-free way to visit the Temple of Isis, book a guided English-language excursion that combines the tour with a trip to the nearby monuments of the Unfinished Obelisk and the Aswan Dam:
Light & sound show
Like many of Egypt's ancient monuments, each evening sees a light and sound show held in the temple complex. The magnificent architecture is beautifully illuminated against the night sky, and tales of the Ancient Egyptian deities keep visitors entertained.
English language audio (other languages at other times):
- Friday to Monday at 6:30 pm (October to April) and 7 pm (May to September).
- Tuesday & Wednesday at 7:45 pm (October to April) and 8:15 pm (May to September).
- Thursday at 9 pm (October to April) and 9:30 pm (May to September).
From October to May: daily 7 am to 4 pm.
From June to September. daily 7 am to 5 pm.
Adults: 100 LE (US$ 3.20)
Students (with valid I.D.): 50 LE (US$ 1.60)
Light and sound show: 125 LE (US$ 4)
Aswan Dam, Philae Temple, and the Unfinished Obelisk € 69 (US$ 74)