El Minya in Egypt

El Minya

El Minya is called the 'Bride of Upper Egypt' due to its location which is roughly at the border of Upper and Lower Egypt. With more than 4 million people living here, the governorate is quite large. Located about halfway between Cairo and Luxor, it lies about 245 km (153 miles) south of Cairo, and has a total size of 32,279 sq. km (12,460 sq. miles) encompassing 9 districts. El Minya is reachable by train or driving in a car along wither the desert or agricultural roads.

El Minya Governorate is an important agricultural and industrial area. Such agricultural products grown here are sugar-cane, cotton, beans, soya beans, garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, and grapes. With regards to industries, there are food-processing (specifically sugar and onions), spinning of cotton, perfumes, oils, fats, cement quarrying, and brick. It is also the provincial capital. Once a cotton center, there are some fine houses here, though not very old, which housed the Greek and Egyptian cotton barons, but now house government offices.

El Minya Governorate has a wealth of archaeological sites worth visiting. Among these sites are Tell El Amarna, Beni Hassan, Tuna El Gabal & El Ashmunein, the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, El Bahnassa, and others, as well as some more modern sites like the Palace of Abdul-Mejid Basha Seif El-Nasr Mallawi, built in the 1930s. About four miles outside town is a Muslim and Christian cemetery called Zawiyyet al-Mayyiteen (Place of the Dead) which is said to be one of the largest cemeteries in the world. Other sights to see include the El-Umra Mosque, which is the town's oldest and the El-Lamati Mosque.

Tell El Amarna and Beni Hassan are perhaps the two most famous sites located in El Minya, though, as mentioned, there are many others as well.

The ruins of El Ashmunein (the Greek Agora) is a very well-preserved site in Minya. The site, which is located about 56 km southwest of the capital of the governorate, has the remains of Greek-era columns of the Agora, an early Christian basilica, remains of a temple built by Ramses II, as well as others.

At Tuna El Gabal is located the temple-shaped tomb of Petosiris, the priest of god Toth, god of wisdom and knowledge. Stelae from the age of Akhenaton, extensive catacombs where many ibis and babboon burials have been discovered, a Roman waterwheel with a 37 m deep well, and a mummy of a girl named Isadora who was 17 years old at the time of her death have also been discovered.

The Monastery of the Virgin Mary is located about 25 km northeast from the capital of El Minya. The monastery is located on the flat top of a rocky hill called Gabal EL Teir. The original building was constructed by Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, in the 4th century A.D. It is also said that she was responsible for the construction of the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai.

The convent is believed to be one of the spots where the holy family rested during their flight into Egypt. The sanctuary is made from rock with the doorway now half-buried in the rubble decorated in Byzantine style reliefs.

El Bahnassa is often thought of as the most important Islamic site in Minya. Located about 65 km northwest of the capital, some of the companions of the Prophet Mohamed are buried there, as well as there being old mosques and the shrine of 7 girls.

El Minya also has many facilities that can accommodate tourists, with great hotels along the corniche and some boats perfect for picnics.

Pharaonic Monuments

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Last Updated: June 5th, 2011