King of Nubia – Abu Simbel, Egypt.
We could see Abu Simbel from the plane. Yes, it's that big.
After a over a week in Egypt – a week of gigantic temples, delicate hieroglyphics, beautiful views – it was Abu Simbel that took the crown. Breathtaking doesn't begin to cover it.
Built more than three thousand years ago, it's wonderfully preserved. The interior is cover in murals, and in some of them you can still spy glimpses of their original covering (which is why you aren't allowed to take pictures).
And this amazing monument was almost lost to us. UNESCO rescued it, stone by stone, before the newly created Lake Nasser covered it entirely. Unfortunately, many Egyptian temples were left to languish under the water.
To the northeast of the Great Temple, we find the smaller temple of Nefertari, also incredibly well-preserved.
It's a bit less elegant, in my opinion, but still mind-numbingly beautiful.
Legend has it that Ramses II was the one that built these temples, perhaps to showcase his dominion over Nubia.
He lorded over his domains with four 20-meter tall statues of himself!
They really are gigantic.
Under his feet are hieroglyphics depicting his conquest of other nations. One of the earliest depictions of slavery:
Not many that visit Egypt make it as far south as Abu Simbel. And while Luxor and Aswan (and of course, the pyramids are Giza) are more than enough to make it a trip of a lifetime, Abu Simbel is something else. Surrounded by nothing but barren desert, standing proud after millennia, it is the most monumental glimpse of the past we can ever hope to witness.