For the First Time in History, Ramesses Didn’t Smile


For the first time in the history of Egypt, a fog over the Abu Simbel temple complex has hidden the famous “solar smile” of the statue of Ramesses II.

“All the tourists were waiting for more than twenty minutes, but for nothing. Such thing hasn’t happened in the whole history of the temple complex,” explains one of the temple curators. On February 22, exactly at 6:25 am, the sun rays should have illuminated the pharaoh’s face, but the fog didn’t let that happen.

Twice a year, on October 22, which is the pharaoh’s birthday, and on February 22 (the day of his coronation), thousands of tourists gather in the foothills of the temple, called Abu Simbel. The temple itself is built in a way that on those exact dates rays of the sun penetrate its dark corridors.


Tourists anticipate this moment and try to photograph or video tape it. According to people that have seen this beautiful phenomenon, the illuminated face of the pharaoh is showing an ironic smile.

The archaeological complex of Abu Simbel is located on the west coast of the Nile River in Southern Egypt, close to the Sudanese border. The two main monuments in the temple complex are the big temple of pharaoh Ramesses II (1290 – 1224 BC) and a smaller one, which belonged to his wife, Nefertari.

Ramesses II is a pharaoh from the 19 dynasty of ancient Egypt. He reigned over the empire for a really long time – 66 years (from about 1279 to 1213 BC).