Aswan is the hub of Nubia and Upper Egypt, located on the Nile's 1st cataract. It was originally a trading port, the meeting point of camel caravan routes leading into the great African hinterland, but now acts as a focus for river-borne tourists.
The city boasts a stunning riverfront, dominated by the Aga Khan Mausoleum, Elephantine Island and the ancient tombs of nobles, saints and dignitaries carved into the West Bank. However, the city's best known attractions are located in the hills to the south: Queen Hatshepsut's huge unfinished obelisk, hewn from Aswan's rich granite deposits, and the stunning Temple of Isis at Philae, built in the 3rd Century BC.
Aswan's other great monuments are of even more importance to modern Egypt: the Aswan Dam, built by the British in 1902, and the High Dam, built by the Russians in 1970. Their presence is punctuated on the skyline by the impressive Friendship Monument.