Al-Minja is lying 109 km south of Bani Suwajf, a Mallawi – yet 47 km away. Ever since the Al-Minji area has become a home for fundamentalists and a battlefield for clashes between them and the Egyptian police and security forces, the district was separated from the rest of the country. The police diligently guard the area against newcomers. Traveling around the circle is subject to many restrictions and to get to some monument, often you have to have police protection. The best way to travel is by a private taxi with a police escort.
It is called the Al-Minja Bridge of Upper Egypt (El Minya, Minya, Minja, Minia) it is the provincial capital with a university and industrial center. It used to be the center of Egyptian cotton production. Tourists can walk around the city without bodyguards, but visiting the surrounding excavation sites must be escorted by the police.
City of the Dead
It's ok. 6,5 km south of the city is a huge Christian and Muslim cemetery, called the City of the Dead (Zawyet el-Maiytin, Zawijat al-Majitin lub Zawijat al-Sultan, Zawyet el-Amwat; dim. zawijet elmajitin). It has been divided into zones: for Copra and Muslims. On suitable holidays during the shawwal months, ragab or dhu al-Hagga, and during the full moon, families visit the cemetery. Copts come here 6 July during tnulidu Aby Hur.
To the west of the cemetery, you can see the remains of a stepped pyramid from the 3rd Dynasty, one of the seven, that King Huni erected.
About 20 km north of al-Minji, there is a high cliff on the eastern shore. His nickname – Dżabal al-Tajr (Bird Mountain) – it came from birds, who came here on the birthday of the local saint.
The monastery is situated approx. 14 km from the Minja bridge (30 min drive from town). You can get here by car, Desert road leading along the eastern bank of the Nile, or felucca (from Bajahu to Jabal al-Tajr), but there are no regular connections.
From the foot of the cliff it leads to the goal 166 degrees cut into the rock (130 m up). According to the legend, when the Holy Family was flowing down the Nile, Mary saw, that a boulder broke off the rock and fell onto the boat. She held out her hands, and the Child miraculously discarded the flying stone.
An imprint of the holy hand appeared on the rock. W 1168 r. Amalryk I, king of Jerusalem, ordered to carve a handprint out of the rock and took it with him. According to tradition, the church was founded by 328 r. Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great. Local Copts baptize their children here, so next to it is a room with seven baptismal pools. The three-nave temple houses a naos and three sanctuaries. The so-called choros (choir), slightly higher than the whole, separate two columns. The middle sanctuary (for the iconostasis) cut in the rock. The Church of the Virgin Mary is a very popular pilgrimage site (22 of August – mulid of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary).
In the streets of decaying Mallawi (Mallawi) garbage is drifting around, and outdated sewage systems cannot keep up with waste disposal. The city bears the consequences of the events of the years 90. XX w. Foreign visitors are not welcome here. There is a railway station on the eastern shore, on the west – Bus Station. There are no good restaurants or hotels for tourists here, and the police would not allow the night.
Rock graves in Bani Hasan
In the small village of Bani Hasan (Bani Hasan), away from 35 km southeast of al-Minji and about the same north of Mallawi, there are rock graves. This most important from the scientific point of view and the most valuable provincial necropolis of the Middle Kingdom between Asyut and Memphis is 39 rock graves, carved in the limestone cliff of the eastern bank of the Nile. The oldest ones come from the times of the VI Dynasty. There are steps cut into the rock leading to the burial sites, they are entered to a height of approx. 80 m. You cannot buy food or water at the tombs and the sanctuary.
FROM 39 the graves of dignitaries only 12 is being decorated, four of them and one undecorated (WITH A 118) opened to visitors. Visitors have a rare opportunity to see the distinctiveness of early Middle Kingdom art with its colorful scenes of everyday life, rest and military activities.
Baqet's Tomb III (BH15), administrators (gubernatora) Menat-Chufu -Minja, in the late XI Dynasty, and possibly Cheti's father (BH17), it is the oldest facility of this type open to tourists. The painting decoration was divided into horizontal stripes (registers). At the entrance you can see a collection of papyrus in the wetlands.
Baqet's life is depicted on the north wall, hunting in the desert and in the swamps among the reeds. Weird animals can be seen here, perhaps unicorns and serpentine quadrupeds and griffins from the "game of the god Set". Craftsmen are painted in the lower register. On the back wall (eastern) shows great wrestling struggles. The southern one is decorated with traditional representations of funeral scenes, interspersed with sports and senet parties. The activities of the ruling nomarch are presented here: counting cattle and punishing peasants who do not pay taxes. On the south wall is the entrance to a small hall intended for the statue of the deceased.
Cheti, probably son of Baqet, took over the reign of his father in the nome of Oryx (XI dynasty). Cheti's Tomb (BH17) it resembles the father's building, but there were six columns inside (two have survived). The paintings show the life of a provincial dignitary: hunting and fishing, and the work of local residents. Papyrus harvesting takes place in the marshes. You can see the spinners further, dancers and craftsmen, and in the higher register, hunting in the desert. Cheti and his wife watch the dancers and play senet. Right next to it, servants bring gifts. On the eastern wall, scenes of fight and struggle of wrestlers are presented, and on the southern farmers' work: making wine, cattle grazing and plowing. Governor Cheti himself is watching. It is protected from the sun by an umbrella, and the servants with fans strive, so that the work is not strenuous. At the exit, the nomarch's boats were painted. About 3 km south of the tomb stands the temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Speos Artemidos).