Aswan, a city on the Nile River, has been southern Egypt’s strategic and commercial gateway since antiquity. It contains significant archaeological sites like the Philae temple complex, on Agilkia Island near the landmark Aswan Dam. Philae’s ruins include the columned Temple of Isis, dating to the 4th century B.C. Downriver, Elephantine Island holds the Temple of Khnum, from the Third Dynasty.
On the Nile’s east bank lies the Unfinished Obelisk, a massive, 42m-long monument that remains in its quarry. It’s a reminder of the city’s heyday supplying granite for Ancient Egypt’s pyramids, temples and statues. The Nubia Museum traces the region’s native culture from prehistory to modern times. Elsewhere, Sharia al-Souk is a bustling marketplace known for local crafts. On the Nile’s unpopulated west bank, the Qubbet el-Hawa are cliffside tombs decorated with hieroglyphics. Abu Simbel, site of 2 13th-century B.C. temples of Ramses II, is a popular day trip to the south.