Do you know about the Nubian Village in Aswan? If not, you should learn about it because it is a fascinating place that welcomes visitors and provides an unforgettable experience entirely unique from the rest of your explorations in this remarkable land.
If you are planning a visit to Egypt, you already know that it is a land that has served as a home to many different civilizations. These include the Ancient Egyptians whose monuments still dot the landscape and who serve as a major reason for millions of travelers to head to Egypt every year. There were also the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Islamic conquest of Egypt, the French and British occupations, and more. However, there are also the peoples in regions neighboring Egypt, and they too have called the land home.
Many pay a visit because of the Ancient Egyptians, though, and as fascinating as they are, there were civilizations co-existing with theirs in those border areas. Some of those ancient contemporaries even live in our modern era! One such example is the Nubian Village in Aswan.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Southern Egypt, at the time of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaonic era was home to other ethnic groups. The Nubians were one of them, and they existed in northern Sudan as well as southern Egypt. They had peaceful settlements along the river and were known as a dignified people with remarkable horse riding skill, great marksmanship with weapons like bow and arrows, and for their generally peaceful existence.
In fact, the Nubians integrated into Egyptian society as far back as the Pharaonic period, with a few of the later pharaohs claiming Nubian decent. The good news is that there are still some authentic Nubian villages, and the Nubian Village in Aswan is one of them. NOTE: There are several Nubian communities throughout modern Egypt, and many are quite welcoming to visitors and tourists. The one village we will focus on, here, though, is the village adjacent to modern Aswan.
Set on lovely Elephantine Island, it is a very popular spot with those who live full time in Aswan as well as travelers from around the world. The inhabitants of the Nubian Village in Aswan did not always live on the island. They were like many others who were relocated during the creation of the High Dam at Aswan. The rising waters forced many communities to relocate, and the Nubians now on Elephantine Island were among them.
THE NUBIAN VILLAGE IN ASWAN TODAY
Though Aswan is noted as a low-key city with pace entirely different from the bustle of Cairo and the busy tourism spots of Luxor, a visit to the Nubian Village in Aswan provides a break from even that gentler pace. There are actually two villages, but they are connected by a footpath. Both are in the heart of the island with one known as Siou Village and the other as Koti Village.
The area is unique because it is flanked on one end by the Ancient Egyptian ruins that some come to visit, and by a modern hotel at the opposite end. And though it might seem that the inhabitants of the Nubian Village in Aswan would dislike the presence of a modern hotel, it is typical for them to encourage visitors to enter the village, walk through the many gardens and witness what their peaceful and even tranquil everyday lives are like.
While Elephantine Island is also home to the Aswan Museum and the ruins of the Temple of Khnum, it is also a picturesque place that begs to be explored, and travelers can feel safe and confident in entering the lovely and colorful Nubian Village in Aswan to do so.
NOTE: The island was noted as being one of the first to hear and see the annual flood waters of the Nile as they surged northward towards the delta area. Because of that, travelers today can see the ancient nilometer used to measure the rising waters. It is found at the bottom of a set of ancient stairs cut from the natural rock and marked with Pharaonic numbers (as well as Arabic and Roman numerals).
HOW TO PAY A VISIT TO THE NUBIAN VILLAGE IN ASWAN
Elephantine Island is directly opposite Aswan and north of the First Cataract (the site of the first dam along the Nile). Most travelers book a felucca to take them across, but there is also ferry that makes regular trips throughout the day from Aswan.
A camera is obligatory for a visit as it will easily rank as one of the most colorful and visually appealing spots during any sort of visit to Egypt. The village is home to an array of unique shops and vendors, ranging from tiny handcrafts for sale to towering displays of authentic Egyptian and African spices. The homes are also painted different colors and made from a blend of materials, with a diverse range of architectural styles at work.
In addition to colorful shops and displays, the tiny cafes boast remarkable mixtures of hues and shades in their crockery, linens and interiors. Sip strong Egyptian coffee and sample tasty, local favorites as you chat with locals or simply do a bit of people watching. It is important to keep in mind that you are in the company of an ancient people, and that their language, traditions, music and foods let you peek back across the centuries. While the modern world is present in the Nubian village, you will note that contemporary Western influences have not overwhelmed or greatly reduced the character of the people.
Though you may have headed to Egypt to see all of the sites of the ancient, Pharaonic past, it is possible to enjoy a hint of what remains by a visit to the Nubian village. A guide is a good way to see all that the island has to offer, and a day trip or even a stay on the island is certainly going to be an unforgettable part of any journey.