Minya Governorate in the central part of Egypt has never featured as a top tourist destination.
Nevertheless, this governorate which is inhabited by around 6 million people has enough landmarks to make it the sought-after destination for local and foreign tourists alike.
As a human concentration site, Minya emerged through the development of ancient civilisations to become one of the most wonderful regions in Egypt, even as it is very little known.
This governorate is the geographical and historical heart of Egypt in many ways.
It is located along the River Nile, around 230 kilometres south of Cairo. Minya was the capital of Egypt for nearly 700 years when both Akhenaten and the beautiful Queen Nefertiti made their home in the famous centre of worship in Malawi in the village of Tel el-Amarna.
Being a privileged location since the times of the Pharaohs and the Romans until the Abbasid era, Minya offers its visitors many adventures of exploration.
The governorate boasts a large number of museums and cemeteries where beautiful sculptures, drawings, and relics that thousands of years of history are showcased.
There is the ancient architecture, one of the original Greek squares, a Christian basilica from early times, and the remains of a temple built by Ramses II.
Minya also contains amazing temples, the Church of the Virgin Mary and a palace that dates back to the year 1930.
The governorate is also home to a large number of tombs that date thousands of years back.
Some of these tombs were discovered recently. Archaeologists believe that these tombs belong to a very large city that used to exist in the past. They also think the tombs can offer clues to many of the mysteries of ancient Egyptian life.
Minya also contains a series of wonderful hotels that offer all types of travellers with a nice and comfortable accommodation for the period of their stay in the governorate.
Ashmounin village is one of the most important sites in Minya. This village was capital of the fifteenth region in ancient Egypt.
It was known in the past as the Holy City or Khamoun. The Greeks used to call it Hermopolis, after the god Hermes.
The Ashmounin includes the remains of a temple and statues of Ramses II, some of the remains of the Greek market that contain a group of red granite columns, a stone sign specifying the date of the market’s establishment in 350 BC during the reign of Ptolemy II and his wife Arsinoe, the remains of the temple of King Amenemhat II, and some of the ruins of a church constructed of granite.
The Mallawi Museum is also an important landmark in the governorate.
It contains relics, coffins and manuscripts that bear witness to an extended period in history.
The museum was founded during the era of late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1962.
The museum also includes the coffins of some of the kings of Egypt for some ages, lecture halls, a laboratory for the restoration of antiquities and some of the antiquities of the Islamic era, along with antiquities from central Egypt.
The same museum houses antiquities from Tel al-Amarna, Tuna al-Jabal and the Ashmounites.
These relics provide important information about the different eras to which they belong.
In 2013, the museum was looted and vandalised by extremist groups, especially after the June 30 Revolution against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, state agencies intervened to restore the museum to its beauty and splendor.
Minya’s important landmarks also include Tuna al-Jabal, by far the most important tourist site in the governorate.
This site contains antiquities that date back to important eras in Egypt’s history.
Among other things, these antiquities include corridors carved in the rock that were dedicated to the burial of sacred ibis and monkeys after their mummification, while the mummies were placed in pottery, wooden or stone coffins.
The outer surfaces of some of these corridors include texts in the Demotic script.
Minya is easy to reach from Cairo by train. There are other good transport options to get to the governorate as well, including buses and private vehicles.