Strongly resembling the temple of Luxor, the temple of Soleb, situated on the west bank of the Nile River, is a well-preserved sandstone temple ordered by Amenhotep III (the ruler of Nubia at the time) in honor of the gods Amun-Re and Nebmaatre.
Leading from a terraced temple on the Nile banks, a processional way ran up to a support structure for the temple called the First Pylon which stood within an enclosure wall and was fortified with bastions. Two pairs of obelisks stood in front of and behind the pylon, after which an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes led to a second pylon behind which was featured a colonnades of well-proportioned columns carved as papyrus.
The temple of Soleb played a central role in some of the Egyptian myths, such as where the eye of Horus was lost in a battle with Seth in Nubia. After this, the eye was supposed to have taken on the appearance of a lioness.
Two red granite lions from Soleb are among the most famous elements of the temple, but the British
looted borrowed them for the British Museum where they now reside.
Getting to the temple is not an easy affair and requires some coordination with the locals. We arranged with the gentlemen pictured below to take us across the Nile to the temple of Soleb.
Note the desert conditions even though we are just a few hundred meters from the Nile River. You can see why essentially all development in this part of the world is right along the river:
We’re walking to the boat here and are perhaps a hundred meters from the river… You can see that the arid, desert conditions have finally started to give way to some greenery:
Settled in on the Nile:
Crossing the Nile River to Soleb:
Again, the rule about fertility being associated with extreme proximity to the Nile holds true… This time on the other side of the river:
As mentioned above, there used to be a pathway leading to the temple, but now you just emerge from the palm groves and fields and find the temple remains before you.
The Soleb temple:
The view from the back of the temple of Soleb:
Since this is Sudan, one can clamber all over the temple and even make their way to the very top of the surviving structure:
My proof shot – you can see the Nile in the background:
If you bring any women to the temple of Soleb, keep an eye on them. The villagers at the site are fine, but the police in the area are corrupt and will sexually harass any women that look like Eleonora. One of them followed us back to our boat and groped Eleonora as she was trying to leave. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about that until we were already in the boat.
Don’t let that put you off from going, just be aware of it.