Minya – Is This the Birthplace of Pharaoh Khufu?
Minya, Egypt is a city which is located on the western bank of the Nile River, roughly 245 kilometers to the south of Cairo. It is the capital city of Egypt’s Minya Governorate. While the original city no longer exists, apart from some ancient tombs, it is believed that the modern-day city of Minya stands on or near to the original city which was called Men’At Khufu.
The name Minya is in fact derived from the Ancient Egyptian name of Men’At Khufu, which translates as the Nursing City of Khufu. This obviously suggests a direct link between the ancient city and Pharaoh Khufu, the same pharaoh who had the Great Pyramid in Giza built.
Ironically, Minya is an often overlooked treasure trove full of amazing Egypt tourist attractions. In fact, it is home to some amazing Nile River tourist attractions. Most visitors want to visit those sites which have become iconic symbols of Ancient Egypt rather than visit sites which they may never have heard about. For this reason, you won’t find El Minya featured in many pre-packed tours.
Even we don’t include El Minya in many of our tour itineraries. However, all of our Egypt tour packages and all of our Nile cruise holidays are fully customizable. This means that our clients can easily enjoy a guided tour of the sites at El Minya even if it’s not featured in their preferred itinerary. Some of our Dahabiya cruises also include a visit to El Minya.
In addition to all the well-documented historical sites at Minya, a team of archeologists have recently also discovered a vast ancient necropolis, complete with more than 1,000 columns, tombs, and etc.
Minya, Egypt – A Brief History
Up until 3200 BC, the area where modern-day Minya is located was a sort of independent city state which formed the 16th nome. In 3200 BC, Pharaoh Menes unified the 48 nomes in Egypt; giving birth to the 1st Dynasty of unified Egypt. This area went on to become a major center of commerce and trade.
At some point during the later years of the Old Kingdom, the city’s name was changed to Men’At Khufu who went on to rule Egypt at around 2050 BC.
Many years later, after the Old Kingdom had long since collapsed, the powerful rulers of Men’At Khufu formed an alliance with the powerful Theban rulers, a decision which benefited them greatly. Many acquired vast wealth and great power.
This continued until sometime during the 11th Dynasty; a time when the rulers of Men’At Khufu reached their height it terms of power.
The Rock Cut Tombs of Beni Hassan
The rulers of Minya (Men’At Khufu) were just as concerned as earlier pharaohs were about the afterlife. As a result, they had tombs carved out of nearby limestone cliffs overlooking a gentle curve in the River Nile.
There are two possibilities as to why these rulers opted for what are today known as chapel tombs. It was either because the pyramid-building era had already come to an end, or else it could have been because they simply couldn’t afford to have pyramids built, despite their wealth.
Today, the tombs of these rulers which are located in the cliffs above the village of Beni Hasan, are the only lasting reminder of the wealth and power which the rulers on Minya once enjoyed.
There are a total of 39 tombs at Beni Hasan, but as is to be expected, they are not as magnificent as many other Ancient Egyptian monuments.
The Importance of the Beni Hassan Tombs at Minya
While the Beni Hassan tombs are by no means as elaborate or as magnificent as some of the ancient tombs one can see in Egypt, they are very special in another way.
No other ancient monuments in Egypt reveal as much information as the Beni Hassan tombs do about what daily life was like in Egypt some 4,000 years ago.
Another amazing feature of these tombs is the fact that they reveal more about the daily lives of ordinary citizens than they do about the rulers who were laid to rest in them.
Other Things to See In Minya
Minya, as the modern-day city is known, has played an important role throughout Egypt’s history, from the Pharaonic era, all the way through to the present day. Because of this reason, people who choose to visit Minya can expect to see numerous wonderful monuments representing various eras.
For example, there are some nearby ruins of an ancient Greek temple dating back to the Greco-Roman era. A trip to the nearby village of Tuna el-Gebel is also worthwhile, even if only to see the necropolis of Khmun.
Minya and the surrounding area is also home to a number of attractions/sites which are representative of the area’s Byzantine era. The most notable of these sites would be the Monastery of the Virgin Mary that was commissioned by Empress Helena in the year 328.
This site is of particular interest to Christians because the monastery is said to have been built on the site where the holy family rested while fleeing to Egypt.
The city of Minya and the surrounding area is also home to an abundance of spectacular Islamic architecture, some of which dates all the way back to the 14th century. All in all, there really is a lot to see in and around Minya.
Visiting Minya with Egypt Tours Plus
Most people who visit Egypt simply don’t have the time to visit all the fascinating sites which the country has to offer. For most people who are traveling to the country for the first time, visiting the monuments of Ancient Egypt, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, is a top priority.
Understandably, if you have never been to Egypt before, you probably won’t want to devote much time to visiting places such as Minya. However, if you have already been along the main tourist route, then a visit to Minya can be a very rewarding one.
If you are contemplating booking one of our Egypt tour packages, and you would like to visit Minya during your stay in Egypt, please be sure to check your preferred tour itinerary in order to determine if it includes a visit to Minya.
If it does not, we can easily customize your preferred tour so that Minya is included. At Egypt Tours Plus, all our Egypt guided tours can be tailored to meet the exact needs of our clients.