El-Minya: Bride of Upper Egypt
The city celebrated as the Bride of Upper Egypt, described by Ibn Battuta as the town that “excels all other towns of Upper Egypt”. On both sides of the Nile, Minya witnessed turning points of the ancient and modern history since the ancient Egyptian “El-Ashmunein Myth of Creation”, throughout Akhenaten’s monotheism trials, the tomb of Isadora (martyr of Love), the town of Coptic Mary who married Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and the modern high-profile city.
El-Ashmunein Myth of Creation
According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, the universe started as a primeval mound rising from the primeval waters, at El-Ashmunein, where four gods and their female counterparts, formed the Ogdoad, reproduced and created the universe. The myth focused on the nature of the universe before the creation of the world. For that reason, Minya maintained its place between the most important cities in Egypt throughout ancient history.
Minya “Oryx Nome” as it was called in ancient Egypt, was an important administrative and cult center, probably since the reign of Khufu, but extensively developed during the Middle Kingdom, specially by the high-officials whose rock-cut tombs of Beni Hassan, contain some of the best-preserved scenes depicting the Pilgrimage to Abydos, the trade with Asiatics, along with the first depictions of wrestling scenes.
Far to the south, on a virgin soil, Akhenaten decided to build his capital city, Akhetaten (The Horizon of Aten), currently known as Tell El-Amarna, the city that witnessed the rise and fall of Akhenaten’s one and only god, Aten. The city served the role of an administrative capital as well as a cult center. Findings include remains of palaces, houses, the archive, temples and rock-cut tombs with unique scenes of the royal family, which were re-used in Coptic times by the Christians during the Roman persecution.
Akhenaten erected several boundary stelae, to mark his capital city, one of them stands on the right-hand side of the road leading to Tuna El-Gebel, in which Akhenaten vows not to extend the boundaries of Akhetaten beyond this limit.The stela is the oldest monument known until now at Tuna El-Gebel.
The site of Tuna El-Gebel is well-known as a cult center for the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom,Thoth.The animal form of the god as: baboon and Ibis, were discovered there.
One of the most important tombs in the site is the tomb of the High Priest of Thoth, Petosiris, dating back to the Greco-Roman era, and is considered a unique example of Greco-Roman tomb decoration as the scenes on the outer walls of the tomb, while ancient Egyptian scenes are depicted inside the tomb.
Isadora, the Martyr of Love, a Greek girl who loved a Roman soldier and married him despite her father refusing the marriage, she drowned in the Nile, and her tomb commemorates her touching love story.
The city of the Ogdoad, El-Ashmunein, the cult center of Thoth during the Pharaonic era, and later known as Hermopolis Magna, during Greco-Roman period, due to the association of Thoth and the Greek God Hermes. As a result, stand the two famous colossal Baboon statues in the site, as well as the Great Temple of Thoth which carries both Egyptian and Greek architectural elements. Many artifacts from the site, are presented at Malawi Museum.
Monastery of the Virgin
On the eastern bank of the Nile, to the east of Samalut, and on Gebel El Teir, lies the Monastery of the Virgin, built in the fourth Century AD. The site was one of the Egyptian destinations for the Holy Family: The Virgin, Christ and Joseph, the Carpenter, during their journey.
Minya is considered one of the modern important Egyptian cities, as an intermediate between Upper and Lower Egypt, and it has the Egypt’s largest corniche on the Nile, and as hometown of many Egyptian cultural icons: the great writer Taha Hussein, the musician Ammar El Sherei and many more.
The city celebrated as the Bride of Upper Egypt, located about 245 south of Cairo.