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The Temple of Philae located on Agilkia Island in Aswan is an unmissable destination when visiting Egypt. However, a visit to the Temple of Philae can be overwhelming as there is such an architectural wealth ranging from monuments erected from the eras of the Pharaohs to the Caesars. Find out how to visit and what to see at the Temple of Philae in Aswan.

Where Is Temple of Philae and How to Get There

The Temple of Philae Complex is located on Agilkia Island (also called Agilika). Agilkia Island is situated in the reservoir of the Old Aswan Dam (also called Aswan Low Dam).


Source: Map data @2020 ORION_ME

The Temple of Philae Complex is located on Agilkia Island (also called Agilika). Agilkia Island is situated in the reservoir of the Old Aswan Dam (also called Aswan Low Dam).

My transportation to the Temple of Philae and my guide were done through the travel agency: Your Egypt Tours. They worked with me to put together a 7-day Egypt itinerary.

For my trip to see the Temple of Philae, my guide picked me up from the airport in Aswan, and off we went to see the Temple of Philae located on the island of Agilkia.

It took about 20 minutes to reach the Marina Philae Temple, where small boats wait to transport visitors to Agilkia Island where the Temple of Philae Complex is located.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Marina Philae Temple / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae on Aglikia Island / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Opening Hours and Entrance Fees to the Temple of Philae

The Temple of Philae Complex is open from 7 am till 4 pm (October through May) and 7 am till 5 pm (June through September).

The entrance fee is 180 EGP.

Also, if you are interested, check out the Sound and Light Show at the Temple of Philae. For tickets and times click here.

Interesting Facts About Temple of Philae

  • The temple of Philae was one of the important temples in Egypt for several reasons. First of all, Philae Island was believed to be one of the burial places of Osiris. Second, the temple of Philae was dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.
  • The temple of Philae was venerated starting from the Ptolemaic Kingdom period, through the Aegyptus period, all the way to the Coptic period.
  • The pilgrims would come from all over the Mediterranean to worship the goddess Isis.
  • The construction of the Old Aswan Dam (also called Aswan Low Dam) in 1902, caused Philae Island and its temple complex to be flooded for the majority of the year. When the plans for the second dam were presented in 1954, it became clear that the island will cease to exist.
  • In 1960 UNESCO launched the international campaign to save the Nubian monuments. In 1968 a decision was made to dismantle, move and then, rebuild the Temple of Philae Complex. The island of Agilkia located 500 meters away was selected as the new location of the Temple of Philae. Interestingly, the method that was used for measuring the monuments before they were moved was photogrammetry (photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs).
How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae before being moved to the Island of Aglikia / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae / Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Reconstruction of the Temple of Isis

Reconstruction of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae / Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Map of the Temple of Philae

1 . The Vestibule of Nectanebo I

2. The Outercourt  and the Colonnades of the Temple of Philae

3. The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae Complex

4. The Forecourt of the Temple of Philae and the Birth House (Mammisi)

5. The Second Pylon

6. The Vestibule of the Temple of Philae

7. The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis

8. The Temple of Hathor

9. The Kiosk of Trajan (Pharaoh’s Bed)

What to See at the Temple of Philae in Aswan

NUMBER 1

The Vestibule of Nectanebo I

The vestibule of Nectanebo I is a beautiful structure consisting of columns connected with screen walls. Out of the 14 original columns, only 6 remain today.

If you notice, each side of the column is adorned with the head of the goddess Hathor. To have the emblem of goddess Hathor on all four sides indicates that Hathor was a powerful goddess with her face directed into four corners of the world.

Also, each column has the cartouche with the name Nectanebo I.

A Quick Read: 

Who was Nectanebo I?

Nectanebo I ruled Egypt from 381 to 362 b.c.e. In 373 the Persians attempted to reimpose their rule on the area, but Nectanebo I outmaneuvered the 220,000-man enemy army near Mendes in the Nile delta, forcing it to retreat. The external threat to Egypt diminished significantly thereafter as rebellions throughout their empire preoccupied the Persian kings.

A patron of the arts, Nectanebo I also undertook a massive building program, especially at Philae, Edfu, and Hermopolis Magna. In 380 the pharaoh dedicated a large stone marker at the prosperous harbor of Herakleion, officially declaring it to be the Nile’s exit to the Mediterranean Sea.

Source: Lionel Casson, The Pharaohs (Chicago: Stonehenge, 1981).

Temple of Philae in Aswan

The Vestibule of Nectanebo I / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae in Aswan

The Vestibule of Nectanebo I / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 2

The Outercourt and the Colonnades

Once you step into the outercourt, you are going to be surrounded by two rows of magnificent colonnades.

The western colonnade follows the edge of the island. If you look closely, you will notice that no two capitals are the same on the western side.

However, the eastern colonnade looks different. The reason is that it was never finished.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Outercourt and the Colonnades / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 3

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae Complex

As you approach the first pylon, take a look at the remains of the two obelisks. Now, only a pair of granite lions remain.

Temple of Philae

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

The first pylon, or gateway, consists of two 18-meter towers.

The western tower has the famous relief of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, commonly known as Auletes,  grasping a bunch of the enemies by their hair and raising his staff to strike them.

Temple of Philae

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The door in the western tower leads to another famous structure: the Birth House, which we will cover in the next section.

Now, take a look at the eastern tower. It has spectacular reliefs of the goddess Isis and the falcon-headed god Horus.

Above the reliefs of Isis and Horus are more fascinating reliefs. On the right, you can see the relief of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos presenting the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Horus and Isis. And, on the left, it is again Ptolemy offering incense to Isis and, as my tour guide told me, to Harpocrates.

Temple of Philae

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

As you pass through the main entrance of the first pylon, take a look at the walls covered with inscriptions commemorating Napoleon’s campaign. Also, look for an inscription mentioning General Desaix and commemorating his defeat of Mamelukes at Behneceh and then Murad Bey at Sediman.

Temple of Philae

The First Pylon of the Temple of Philae / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 4

The Forecourt and the Birth House (Mammisi)

The forecourt of the Temple of Philae includes rows of beautiful colonnades adorned with the head of goddess Hathor.

On the west side is the Birth House (Mammisi) dedicated to goddess Isis in honor of the birth of her son Horus. Inside are many reliefs representing the scenes from Horus’ childhood.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Forecourt and the Birth House (Mammisi) / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 5

The Second Pylon

The second pylon or gateway is even more impressive than the First Pylon at the Temple of Philae.

Interestingly, the second pylon is angled to the east, which completely changes the angle of the temple.

My tour guide told me that the reliefs on the second pylon are by Euergetes II. I made a mental note to check out who Euergetes II was since I could not make any connections. Sure enough, he was referring to Ptolemy VIII, known as Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Second Pylon / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 6

The Vestibule

The entrance of the second pylon leads to the vestibule or you may call it, a hypostyle hall. The vestibule features eight columns. You will be absolutely amazed by the quality of the craftsmanship of these columns.

Next, make sure to take a look at the ceiling. You will be able to distinguish some beautiful reliefs representing the vultures. By the way, the vulture was the symbol of protection for Upper Egypt.

Temple of Philae

The Vestibule / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

The Vestibule / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

In the vestibule, you will be able to spot some Coptic crosses, which indicate how the temple was transformed into a Christian place of worship.

Things to See at Temple of Philae

The Vestibule / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Things to See at Temple of Philae

The Vestibule / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 7

The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis

To get to the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Isis, you need to pass through three antechambers.

In the middle of the sanctuary is a pedestal. It once supported the statue of the goddess Isis and a barque in which it traveled. They are gone now. Apparently, the statue ended up in Paris and the barque in Florence. However, I searched and could not pinpoint their exact location.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

The Sanctuary of the Temple of Isis / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 8

The Temple of Hathor

Don’t miss the Temple of Hathor! It is located on the east side of the island. It was built by Ptolemy VI Philometor and Ptolemy VIII Eurgetes II.

The temple is beautiful and the location overlooking the water will have you taking lots of pictures.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Temple of Hathor / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Once you cross the temple of Hathor, you will come across several large blocks with the reliefs of god Bes.

A Quick Read: 

Bes (Bisu, Aha) was an ancient Egyptian dwarf god. He was a complex being who was both a deity and a demonic fighter. He was a god of war, yet he was also a patron of childbirth and the home and was associated with sexuality, humor, music, and dancing.

Although he began as a protector of the pharaoh, he became very popular with everyday Egyptian people because he protected women and children above all others.

He had no temples and there were no priests ordained in his name. However, he was one of the most popular gods of ancient Egypt and was often depicted on household items such as furniture, mirrors, cosmetics containers, and applicators as well as magical wands and knives.

Source: Ancient Egypt Online

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Relief of god Bes / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

NUMBER 9

The Kiosk of Trajan (Pharaoh's Bed)

The Kiosk of Trajan or Pharaoh’s Bed consists of 14 massive columns connected with screen walls. The columns have beautifully carved floral capitals.

Inside are reliefs showing Trajan as a pharaoh making offerings to Osiris, Isis, and Horus.

Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD. He presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies.

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Kiosk of Trajan / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

The Kiosk of Trajan / How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

Guide to the Temple of Philae

Intrepid Scout's Tips for How to Visit and What to See at the Temple of Philae

  • Is the Temple of Philae worth visiting? If you are wondering if it is worth visiting the Temple of Philae? The answer is: yes! It is one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt. Plus, taking a boat to the Island of Agilkia where the temple is located makes the entire visit even more special.
  • Get there early, if you are visiting during the summer months. The majority of the time you will be spending outdoors. Make sure to have water, wear a hat, and layer on some sunscreen!
  • Traveling in Egypt can be challenging, even for the most seasoned nomad. There’s so much to know about Egypt and consider before planning a trip, however, make sure to read 14 Egypt travel tips, to help you make the most of your time,  avoid possible challenges, and ensure you have a safe and enjoyable stay in Egypt.

14 Egypt Travel Tips to Save You Time, Money, and Keep You Safe

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

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Also, click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process for your trip to Egypt!

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