Aswan, the southerly Egyptian resort city, and a popular holiday destination, has more of an African ambiance than most Egyptian cities, due to its numerous Nubian inhabitants, who bring in their own interesting culture and customs. Although every bit as touristy as Luxor, Aswan and its inhabitants are far more laid-back and pleasant.
Aswan is the picturesque city, its attraction as a holiday destination lies not so much in its historical sites, as in the peacefulness of a felucca cruise at sunset, a visit to the colourful market (Sharia el-Souq), or dinner at one of the floating restaurants on the Nile. Aswan is a perfect base from which to visit the magnificent Sun Temple of Ramses II, Abu Simbel, which is one of the most famous attractions of Egypt.
Philae Temple is a large complex, relocated to the island of Agilika with the building of the High Dam in Aswan, features the magnificent Temple of Isis that was built in the late Ptolemaic and early Roman periods. Philae was one of the last outposts of Egyptian religion, surviving two centuries after the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. The sacred island attracted many Greek and Roman pilgrims, who came to pray for healing from the mysterious Egyptian goddess Isis. Even after their defeat by Emperor Marcian in 451 AD, Nubian priests were permitted to make offerings to Isis on Philae.
Abu Simbel Temple
The two temples of Abu Simbel, the Temple of Ramses II and the temple of Hathor (the Sun God), dedicated to his wife Nefertari, were cut out of the sandstone cliffs more than 3,000 years ago. Not only are these temples among the most magnificent in the world, but also their removal and reconstruction are recorded as a major engineering feat during the construction of the High Dam on Lake Nasser in the 1960s. The monuments were threatened with submersion, and after an appeal by UNESCO, in co-operation with the Egyptian Government, they were dismantled and reassembled exactly as before, about 197 feet (60m) higher up.
The Nubia Museum
The Nubian Museum in Aswan is an excellent introduction to the history and culture of the Nubians. It contains a collection of artifacts from Nubia (the region approximately between Aswan and Khartoum in Sudan) and an exhibition of Nubian culture and crafts. It also portrays the history and people of the Nile Valley from ancient times until the present, and has a hall full of impressive statues and tombstones from the region. One of the most interesting exhibits is that covering the project of UNESCO to move monuments like Abu Simbel endangered by the High Dam on lake Nasser to higher ground, as you can get an idea of what the area looked like before the floods and how much effort was put into preserving this endangered ancient culture.