Aswan (Aswan) it is the third largest city in Egypt on the Nile (200 thousand. residents), located on the eastern bank of the river at the beginning of the 1st Cataract, 886 km from Cairo and 215 km from Luxor. It is the southernmost city in Egypt and the provincial capital. Aswan is busy, modern resort with an old one, almost nineteenth-century center, which is gradually being rebuilt and slowly becoming a thing of the past.
This is the last opportunity, to see a real bitch, listen to Nubian music and try Nubian cuisine. Aswan is one of the driest cities in the world. It was raining here in 2001 r., and the previous one fell six years earlier. You should also be prepared for the heat, because the average winter temperatures are 23-30 ° C, in summer they may rise to 38-54 ° C. Worse, when a hot wind rises from the desert, carrying a cloud of brown dust. It's best to come here in late fall and spring, because in winter Aswan is bursting at the seams with tourists. The city itself is beautifully situated on the banks of the Nile. Green islands – Elephantine and Kitchener's Island (Plant Island) -they stand out brightly from the golden amber west bank. Crossing the river fetuki, are reflected in the blue of the water. Water birds hide in the dense green rushes. Massive granite boulders of the cataract block the wide current of the river. This is where the end of the civilized world used to be.
The setting sun turns the river and the sky purple and gold. Then the western cliffs and Elephantine palm plumes swaying in the wind stand out with the black-and-purple contour., and little boats with Nubian boys slowly glide down the gilded river.
In the city you can feel the breath of the Black Continent. The faces are definitely darker, and western suits disappear among whites, beige and blue galabies and snow turbans. In a tangle of old streets, which have not yet fallen victim to modernity, there is a crowd of buyers.
Aswan is the ancient Swan, former frontier city of the pharaohs' state, fortress at the first cataract.
Every traveler had to stop at the boulders that barred the river, whether it was swimming against the tide, or with the current of the river. The fortress city of Ibu grew up on the island on the Nile (Abu), through which all goods entering or leaving the country passed. Upper Egypt began here. In the times of the Old Kingdom, red-pink granite was a desired commodity in the area, from which obelisks were forged, statues, monolithic chapels and sarcophagi for rulers. From here, expeditions for gold went to Nubia, skin, Ivory, exotic animals, incense and black slaves. The city grew richer on trade. Local chiefs, The guards of the South Gates kept a guard on the fringes and from time to time organized punitive expeditions to the nearby Land of Kush (nubii).
Abu was also an important religious center. There was a temple of the Lord of the Cataract on Elephantine – the divine Khnum, the god of the inundation of the Nile. The Egyptians believed, that the Nile, thanks to Khnum, flows out of the underground chambers by the cataract. He was worshiped along with the god of the floods of the Nile, open, and a provider of cool water, Lady of Elephantine – Satis (Satet). In the Late Period, Jewish mercenary units were stationed on the island, with whom the Egyptians had not always bloodless disputes. In the Greco-Roman times, this bustling city was called Syene. During the time of Ptolemy, the Greek geographer Eratosthenes of Alexandria carried out here an experiment in determining the terrestrial meridian. He calculated, that Syene is on the Tropic of Cancer. The measurements allowed him to argue, that the earth is round, so he calculated its diameter. Only Fr. 80 km!
During the centuries of Roman rule, the city remained almost unchanged. When in the North, factions of Christians argued over theological details, The noon continued in the ossified version of the Egyptian religion. And although no one could read the hieroglyphs from the temple of Isis on Philae anymore, and pilgrimages from Nubia were more frequent than those from Egypt, everything was still. When Christian monks founded the Monastery of St.. Symeona, the old ceremonies were still held at File. The monks converted the principality of Nobatia. When the Arabs came to Egypt with Islam, monks of Syene, actually from the Coptic Swan, they received help from their brothers in the faith of the South. For centuries, the desert Bedouin tribes raided the city. They ended only after the Turkish conquest, when the army decisively dealt with the Bedouins. The city changed its name once again, this time to Aswan, and accepted another faith: islam. Despite this, Christianity remains an important element of life to this day.
W XIX w., century of colonies and conquests, In Aswan, Egyptian-British armies were stationed guarding Pax Bńtannica in Africa. From here the troops set out, to suppress the Mahdi uprising (1881-1898), described by Sienkiewicz in so colorfully and not entirely truthfully in his novel W Desert i w Puszczy.
After the "calming down" of the country by General Kitchener, the south of Egypt and Aswan became a fashionable point on the route of the so-called. Grand Tour. Europeans who had their lungs rested and treated themselves here. Aswan became a base for smugglers and antiques dealers with nothing-to-end legal excavation. When the economic realities finally spoke and the British erected the first dam, the city began to change. But it was only the construction of the High Dam that brought real changes (Sad al-Ali) in years 60. i 70. XX w. The former Nubia was flooded, and its inhabitants were moved almost by force to the vicinity of Kom Ombo, Edfu i do Asuanu. It also mobilized the world to save the monuments of Egyptian culture. To meet the times ahead, the city has implemented two great projects: the University of Africa and the Nubian Museum were established. It was first noticed, that the Nubians have their peculiarity, a culture and language distinct from the rest of the country.