City of Asyut, Egypt
Egypt is home to some of the most intriguing cities of the world and the city of Asyut or Assuit as it is also called certainly deserves a mention here. At a distance of about 234 miles to the south of the capital city Cairo, city of Asyut is largest town of Upper Egypt and houses the third largest university of the country. But the city claims its importance from the pharaonic times and has been known by different names throughout the history of the land. In pharaonic times city of Asyut was named Syut but later was named Lycopolis by the Greek which translated to city of the wolf. Asyut is the capital of Asyut muhafazah which means governorate. In ancient times the city was a famous centre for worshipping of jackal headed god named Wepwawet. Until 1850s the city was also largest slave market in ancient Egypt.
Located on the west coast of Nile, the city of Asyut lies midway between Aswan and Cairo. The 235 miles distance between Cairo and Asyut can be covered through road or rail. A desert road connects the two cities and driving past this is an adventure of its own. With no gas stations or cafeterias there is nothing around but just desert for the five hour drive. But if one is carrying enough water and food for the way, it will not be much of a difficulty but instead a good way to enjoy the desert. Another option would be to take the agricultural road which moves through several towns but adds time to the journey. A rail journey would take more time but would be safer as the desert road is almost lonely all the way.
Places to stay
Though Asyut may not boast of luxury hotels there are a few interesting options for the tourists. The city centre offers some decent accommodations with hospitable staff and owners. Those who want more comfortable stay can opt for one of the large boats on bank of the river Nile. With a perfect view of the sunset, clean and maintained rooms and more than one dining options these boats add more to the overall experience. With 10 minutes from city centre the university hostel can also be looked upon as a third option
What to look for
Asyut is a place where one can still see the marvel of silver appliqué work shawls. Inlaid woodwork, rugs and finely crafted pottery are other things that interest the tourists. Carpet manufacturing units can also be found in the region. The Cornice with its neatly laid shops and proximity to the boats offers a prefect view. For those who want to enjoy the mystery of the Nile the wooden sailboats could sure help them relive the majestic past.
The city of Asyut has a considerable Christian population and is one a prominent agricultural centre. The countryside is beautiful with vibrant hues and the fields are marked by well made canal system. Among the ancient marvels, Necropolis of Asyut signifies the historic importance of the place with its tomb of many religious leaders.
Just minutes away
There are many ancient structures minutes away from the main city centre. The convent of Virgin Mary is 10 km from the city and is along the steep walls of Western Mountain. The convent adjoins a cave which is believed to be the last temporary home of the holy family before they returned to Palestine. The beautiful artwork and the friendly nuns make this ancient place a good visit for the pilgrims and tourists alike. August attracts millions of tourists from all over the globe for the fast of the Virgin Mary.
The Banana Island to the north is a 19th century English barrage and has Ibrahimiyya canal which still irrigates the region. The Hatnub quarries have a long history and took about half day journey from the river Nile in ancient times. The local Coptic population is also proud of the Lillian Trasher orphanage which was founded in 1900s. Another ancient monastery just located at 45 minutes drive from city of Asyut is the Harraq monastery. A souvenir shop, churches, a library and an old mansion transforms the scenery to a completely magnificent era. The monastery palace which was built in 1910 has many ancient manuscripts. The monastery not only hosts ancient architecture but is also a place where locals’ interact and children play.
The bottom line
The city of Asyut is a perfect destination for tourists who want to bask in the marvels of ancient Egypt and yet spend a holiday with all amenities.