Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page
Abou-Menas Monastery, (Ministry of Tourism, Egypt)
View photos from OUR PLACE the World Heritage collection

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 1979
Size of heritage: 183 ha

Longitude: 29,667°
Latitude: 30,850°


The church, baptistry, basilicas, public buildings, streets, monasteries, houses and workshops in this early Christian holy city were built over the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 296.

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Abu Mena: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Egypt

Abu Mena, located in the Mariut desert in the District of Burg al-Arab, Gouvernate of Al Iskandariyah (Alexandria), is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site that holds immense historical and cultural significance. This ancient Christian pilgrimage site, dating back to the 5th century AD, is dedicated to Saint Menas, an Egyptian martyr and miracle worker.


The history of Abu Mena dates back to the early Byzantine period when the remains of Saint Menas were discovered in the area. The site quickly became a popular destination for Christian pilgrims, who believed in the healing powers of the saint. A basilica was constructed to house the saint's remains, and over time, the site grew into a thriving religious center.

The city of Abu Mena flourished during the 5th and 6th centuries, attracting pilgrims from all over the Byzantine Empire. The city boasted a vast complex of buildings, including churches, monasteries, and hostels, catering to the needs of the pilgrims. The site also featured a water supply system, which was a remarkable engineering feat for its time.

However, the prosperity of Abu Mena was short-lived. In the 7th century, the rise of Islam led to the decline of Christianity in the region. The city was gradually abandoned, and its buildings fell into disrepair. Over the centuries, the site was buried under layers of sand, preserving its ancient remains.

Current State

Today, Abu Mena stands as a testament to the rich history of early Christianity in Egypt. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, recognizing its outstanding universal value. Excavations and restoration work have been carried out to uncover and preserve the remains of this once-thriving pilgrimage center.

The most prominent feature of Abu Mena is the Basilica of Saint Menas, which was the focal point of the city. The basilica, with its intricate architectural details and beautiful mosaics, showcases the grandeur of Byzantine religious architecture. The remains of other churches, monasteries, and hostels can also be found within the site, providing insights into the daily life of pilgrims and the religious practices of the time.

However, the preservation of Abu Mena faces numerous challenges. The site is located in a desert region, making it susceptible to sand encroachment and erosion. Additionally, groundwater levels in the area have risen, posing a threat to the stability of the ancient structures. Efforts are being made to address these issues and ensure the long-term preservation of Abu Mena.

Visitors to Abu Mena can explore the archaeological site and gain a deeper understanding of the early Christian history of Egypt. The site offers a unique opportunity to witness the remains of a once-thriving pilgrimage center and appreciate the architectural and artistic achievements of the Byzantine period.

In conclusion, Abu Mena in Egypt is a UNESCO World Heritage site that holds immense historical and cultural significance. Its rich history as a Christian pilgrimage center and the remains of its grand buildings make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those interested in ancient religious sites.