In the southern part of the ancient Egyptian empire, the Temple of Isis was originally located on the island of Philae in the middle of the Nile River. The devotees of the cult of Isis, a goddess who is frequently referred to as the “mother of the gods,” constructed the temple. The rebirth of her husband Osiris, his subsequent mummification, and the birth of their son Horus, one of the most important gods in the ancient Egyptian pantheon, are depicted on its walls.
One of the many mythical burial grounds of Osiris, a god of fertility, death, and rebirth, made the original island of Philae sacred. The ancient Romans, who later conquered and occupied Egypt, referred to it as “the Unapproachable” because only the religiously devoted were permitted to live there. It was said that birds refused to fly above the sacred land and that fish never swam close to it. The island served as a major trade route and was frequently visited by merchants and vacationers on pilgrimage, despite its status as a holy site.
Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III, who ruled from 285-221 BC, were responsible for the majority of the temple’s construction, despite the fact that earlier shrines to Isis were constructed on the island. From 27 to 37 BC, the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius continued to decorate the site, but their efforts were never finished. Between 117 and 138 AD, the Romans added a western gate to the complex. The temple was officially closed in 537 AD and re-dedicated to Saint Stephen’s worship following the rise of Christianity.
The Aswan Low Dam’s construction at the beginning of the 1900s caused the temple complex to flood.
By the 1960s, a third of Philae’s ancient structures had been permanently submerged, and the site’s vegetation and colorful reliefs had been destroyed by the water. In 1960, UNESCO started a 20-year rescue project that moved approximately 50,000 stones to the temple’s current location on Agilkia Island, where you can still visit and explore it today.