Located at the southernmost border of Egypt's ancient empire, Aswan is truly the "Jewel of the Nile". Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcroppings. The Nile runs clear and cold, splashing and swirling around the jutting granite that mark the First Cataract. At Aswan, the Nile has lost its buffer of cultivated land, and endless waves of golden sand swirl against its banks. 
Aswan is also home to the Aswan High Dam, where the Nile's flow is regulated for the whole of Egypt. The area was formerly known in ancient times as Nubia, and has its own unique heritage, crafts and folklore. The Nubian language is still spoken today by many Aswan residents, and traditional Nubian folkloric performances are a must-see for any visitor. Few Nubian monuments are left for visitors to see, most having been flooded by the waters of Lake Nasser; but several sites of outstanding world heritage were actually moved piece by piece to higher ground before the dam was made operational - including the elegant Temple of Philae in Aswan itself, and the incredible temples of Abu Simbel to the south.
Aswan offers a wonderful opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and timeless ambience of Egypt. It was at Aswan's historic Old Cataract Hotel that Agatha Christie stayed when she wrote "Death on the Nile".


Temple of Philae
Philae Temple, a Ptolemaic temple complex dedicated to Isis, was built on the island of Philae, but when the Old Dam was built, many of the buildings were partially flooded. When the High Dam was proposed, the temple was at risk and was therefore moved to the higher neighbouring island of Agilika. Agilika, blasted and re-landscaped to duplicate the temple island's original topography, became modern Philae. Today, the island floats like a jewel in a pool of royal blue, and is reached by a short motorboat ride.

Aswan High Dam
The Aswan High Dam is Egypt's contemporary example of building on a monumental scale. Built between 1960 and 1971 with the help of the Russians, it rises 111 metres, is 980 metres thick at the bottom and 40 metres at the top, and stretches 3.6 km across the river. Lake Nasser backs up behind it for nearly 500 km and averages over 10 km wide and 180 meters deep - it is the world's largest man-made lake. The High Dam was built to generate enough electricity for new industry, as well as for wide rural electrification, and to provide enough water to bring millions of additional acres under cultivation. From the top of the dam are incredible views over Lake Nasser.


Unfinished Obelisk
The Granite Quarries that supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the hard stone used in pyramids and temples were based in Aswan. Today, a visit to the quarries enables visitors to walk along the entire length of a giant obeli
sk that the ancient workers were trying to chisel out from the rock. Had they finished, it would have been the largest single stone obelisk ever made in Ancient Egypt; but as they worked along the sides of the block they discovered a flaw, and left it unfinished.
Felucca sailing
As the traditional sailing vessel of the Nile, virtually unchanged since Pharaonic times, feluccas can be found all over Egypt but Aswan is the perfect place to enjoy a supremely relaxed sailing trip on one. With the Nile flowing clear and jewel-like here, a cruise on a felucca is a must-do experience.