Egypt’s 3rd largest city, and the largest in Upper Egypt, is situated at the foot of the Nile Valley to the North end of Lake Nasser. It is one of the favourite places for tourists to visit due to it being a major stop for cruise boats; for the River Nile as well as Lake Nasser. It has a local market that is an excellent place to do your holiday shopping; this is especially true if you want spices as you will find the best types of fresh spices here.
The city became very important after the construction of the High Dam as it became a refuge for those Nubians who chose to flee to Egypt after the waters flooded their
homelands, as well as becoming the worldwide rescue campaign of the Nubian monuments during and after its construction.
Aswan’s name is derived from the ancient Egyptian word “Swan”, which means “the market”! This is because it was located on the main trade route between Egypt and the southern lands; with gold, slaves and ivory passing into Egypt. The governors of the 6th Dynasty sent many expeditions to explore the many African countries located to the south, and most of these started from Aswan. It was also the major source of granite, sandstone and quartzite used in the construction of the various monuments throughout Egypt.
In ancient times the God Khnum was the major God of the city, but he was later replaced by the Goddess Isis, Goddess of magic and maternity, in the Greco Roman period. A temple was built for her on the Island of Philae, which had to be moved, along with other structures, when the waters of Lake Nasser engulfed the island. Though still known as “the Temples of Philae, they can now be accessed on the nearby Agilika Island.
Aswan is situated 890Km (553 miles) to the south of Cairo and 220Km (137 miles) to the south of Luxor. It is the third most popular place to visit in Egypt, behind Cairo and Luxor, and is accessible in a number of ways.