At one time, Egypt‘s regional capital, Al Minya, was a little city in the Middle Egypt area that received little attention from tourlists.
It was during the First Intermediate Period that Minya became a minor power center and remained so into the Middle Kingdom when Egypt’s Old Kingdom was overthrown by the New Kingdom.
Most excursions do not include a stop at Al Minya. Tourists seldom visit the sights, and the town’s ambiance doesn’t cater to them. Even though there isn’t much to see here, the ancient part of town surrounding Tahrir Square, Cairo‘s midan, does have some interesting colonial-era structures.
Beni Hassan’s tombs were dug into the stony cliffs on the east bank of the Nile during Al Minya’s reign, dating from this period. Only four of the 39 graves are accessible to the general public.
Even though the Valley of the Kings and Queens in Luxor is more stunning, these tombs are intriguing because of the vibrant murals that represent a range of daily activities in Ancient Egyptian life.
The remains of Speos Artemidos may be found around a mile and a half from the tombs.
This rock-cut temple, like the one in Luxor built by Queen Hatshepsut, commemorates the goddess Hathor.
A modest museum dedicated to Akhenaten, a unique figure in Egyptian pharaonic history, may be seen near Al Minya. As Amenhotep IV, Akhenaton governed Egypt from 1352 BC until 1336 BC, when he became Akhenaten.
His name was changed to Aten, the sun god, shortly after he took control and he abolished the age-old religion in favor of monotheistic devotion.
He established a new capital, Akhetaten, 30 miles south of Minya, presently known as Tell Al Amarna. When Akhenaten’s rains came, even the art created was startlingly different.
When in Cairo, check out the Egyptian Museum’s Amarna Period chamber to observe how distinct Akhenaten’s art was. In the years after Akhenaten’s demise, the priesthood elite tried all in its power to demolish his legacy, including the metropolis he had created.
The mythology of Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, still looms large, even though the city he erected at Tell Al-Amarna is now mostly forgotten. Tell Al-Amarna, the last resting place of the ‘heretic’ Pharoah, may be worth your time if you happen to be at Al-Minya.