Abu Mena was a town, monastery complex and Christian pilgrimage center in Late Antique Egypt.
It was built in remembrance of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in 296 A.D. This archeological site is located about 45 km southwest of Alexandria.
Chris - August 2015
I visited this site in February 2015 on a day trip from Cairo together with a few hours in Alexandria. We first visit the NEW church which is NOT the UNESCO part. This takes an hour to see, it's nice, don't miss it. From there we went to the archeological site which is DIFFICULT to find. Google maps is your friend, it's actually only about 10 minute drive over some dirt roads but they kind of are criss cross but finally we made it. There seemed to be nobody there but we could freely walk it and then someone turned up from the small wooden church there. He asked if we wanted him to show us around, we declined (as we had a Egyptian friend with us who told us to - you know, to pay after which was not agreed). We walked there just over an hour. The underground things are mainly filled with sand/water. There is some restored parts and you can clearly see all the foundations.
On my blog you find some pictures. Its worth the visit especially if you like UNESCO sites. i would not recommend the regular traveler to go there.
Read more from Chris here.
Tom Allen - December 2008
The eerie silence at Abu Mena adds to it's mystique but the absence of visitors isn't reflective of its history as a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The site remains sacred to the Coptic Orthodox Church which is the guardian of the site. Through contacts in the Church I was privileged to get a guided tour in October 2008 but otherwise it's off limits for good reasons. The damage caused by the World Bank funded irrigation project is very evident with the crypt still submerged under water. If you do have an interest in early Christian history, it's well worth looking in to.
Abu Mena is not an easy place to visit. It's about 90km West and a bit south from Alexandria. You have to take a taxi which should cost about US$20. The monastery is huge with lots of buildings, a beautiful basilica that is currently being restored. The current Egyptian craftsmanship is far better than anything else being done in the country right now. The ancient monastery archaeology site is off limits to tourists and is virtually impossible to even find on your own. There must have been 2,000 people at the monastery when I visited in September 2004 but I couldn't find one who spoke English, Spanish or French. The ride itself, out through the desert and past a huge abandoned industrial park is worth the trip alone. Take bottled water - none is available at the monastery. St. Mina was an interesting guy. This is the site where the camel carrying his body to burial stopped. A healing spring miraculously started here and many pilgrims came for healing.
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Full name: Abu Mena
2001 - In DangerDramatic rise in water table
1979 - InscribedReasons for inscription
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Religion and Belief
- Built in the 4th century Archaeologists have dated the original foundation to the late 4th century. By the late 4th century, it was a significant pilgrimage site for Christians who sought healing and other miracles (Wiki)
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- Global Heritage Fund Threat level: rescue needed