Visiting the Temple of Soleb
Located on the western side of the Nile river, close the village of Soleb, the Temple of Soleb is the largest and evocative temple built by the Egyptian pharaohs in Sudan. It was constructed under the reign of Amenhotep III° (1390 – 1352 BC), one of the kings of the 18° Dynasty and dedicated to the Egyptian Gods Amun-Re and Nebmaatre.
The excavation and restoration started in 1957 under the direction of Michela Giorgini (Italian mission from Pisa University) and lasted more than 20 years. The structure of the temple is classic, oriented from East to West and connected to the Nile river by an artificial channel with a sandstone quay for mooring the boats. Starting from E to W, you’ll walk along a processional avenue (called “dromos”) comprised many statues, including 24 granite rams. Six of them were transported to Jebel Barkal under the Sudanese king Piankhy (750 to 719 BC).
Passing through the front room and the Great Pylon, you’ll get across two large courts lined by high columns, which have partly collapsed. The last hall (hypostyle hall) was filled with columns representing the people of the conquered countries figured as prisoners. Two red granite lions are among the most important elements found in the temple, and they are now exposed to the British Museum in London. Our guide told us that an ancient Egyptian myth said the temple of Soleb was the place where the eye of Horus, god of the sky and protector of the rulers of Egypt, was lost in a battle with Seth in Nubia. After this, the eye was supposed to have taken the appearance of a lioness.
Need to know about Soleb
The temple is located next to the Nubian village of Soleb, on the west bank of the Nile. Anyway, the fastest and easiest way to reach it is driving on the Nile east bank until the Nubian village of Wawa, 180 km north of Dongola. Once in Wawa, you need to catch a boat to cross the Nile river (5 minutes ride). The only way to cross the river is to arrange the boat ride with some villagers or with the owner of a Nubian guest house once in Wawa (google map GPS coordinate of the Nubian guest house 20.446568, 30.346939). If you travel with a local tour operator, they’ll sort everything out. There are no hotel in Wawa or restaurant either, only a Nubian guest house where you can cook yourself. We bought some food at the market in Khartoum. If you have time and you’d like to reach the Soleb Temple driving on the Nile west bank, you can cross the river in Delgo by ferry or in Dongola by a bridge. On the west bank, it’s also worth visiting the remains of Sesibi Temple (it was built by King Amenophis IV in the 14th century BC) and the Jebel Dosha, a sandstone rock with a splendid panorama on the banks of the Nile to admire the rock chapel of Thutmose III.
Entrance fee: there isn’t a fixed entrance fee to the temple, but you need to bargain with the guardian. We paid 300 SDG per person. Click here to find out our itinerary and read useful information about Sudan.
Wawa gold mines
Gold has always been one of the main riches of Nubia. Before heading to Karima, we had a quick stop at the gold mines next to Wawa village (Google map GPS Coord: 20.453188, 30.353474). On the top of a small rocky hill, villagers dig deep holes in search of stones and minerals containing gold. Here there are no machinery but only shovels and pickaxes and some basic tents where they spend the night. Gold seekers are hospitable; however, ask the owner of your Nubian guest house to accompany you.