Egypt is home to some of the most intriguing cities in the world and Asyut, or Assuit is certainly one of them. Located about 234 miles south of the capital city, Cairo, the city of Asyut is the largest town in Upper Egypt and houses the third-largest university in the country. The city dates back to Pharaonic times and has been known by many different names throughout history. In Pharaonic times, the city was named Syut, then later it was called Lycopolis by the Greeks, or the city of the wolf. Asyut is the capital of Asyut Governorate. In ancient times, the city was a famous center for worshipping of the jackal-headed god, Wepwawet, and up until the 1850s the city also had the largest slave market dating all the way back to ancient Egypt.
Getting to Asyut
Located on the west coast of the Nile, the city of Asyut lies midway between Aswan and Cairo. The 235 miles between Cairo and Asyut can be covered by road or rail. A desert road connects the two cities and driving this is an adventure all its own. With no gas stations or cafeterias, there is nothing around except the desert for the five-hour drive. However, as long as one is carrying enough water and food for the way, it is not bad and it's actually a great way to enjoy the desert atmosphere. Another option is to take the agricultural road which moves through several towns, however, this adds time to the journey. A rail journey takes even more time but ensures you will have more company than being alone on a desert road.
Places To Stay
Although Asyut may not feature luxury hotels, tourists have a few interesting options for lodging. The city center offers decent accommodations with hospitable staff and owners. Those who want a more comfortable stay can choose one of the large boats on the banks of the Nile. With a perfect view of the sunset, clean and maintained rooms, and more than one dining option, these boats add a nice touch to the overall Asyut experience. Located only 10 minutes from the city center, the university hostel can also be looked upon as a very good third option.
What To See In Asyut
Asyut still holds various marvels of silver appliqué work shawls, inlaid woodwork, rugs, and finely crafted pottery as well as 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 perfect view. For those who want to enjoy the mystery of the Nile the wooden sailboats help them relive the majestic past.
The city of Asyut has a considerable Christian population and is a prominent agricultural center. The countryside is beautiful with vibrant hues and the fields are marked by the well-made canal system. Among the ancient marvels, the Necropolis of Asyut signifies the historic importance of the place with its tomb built for many religious leaders.
Just Minutes Away From Asyut
There are many ancient structures just minutes away from the main city center. The Convent of the Virgin Mary is only 10 km from the city and lies along the steep walls of Western Mountain. The convent adjoins a cave believed to be the last temporary home of the Holy Family before they returned from Egypt to Palestine. The beautiful artwork and the friendly nuns make this ancient place a wonderful visit for pilgrims and tourists alike. August attracts millions of tourists from all over the globe for a special fast in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Banana Island to the north is a 19th-century English barrage and is still irrigated by the Ibrahimiyya canal. The Hatnub quarries have a long history and were a half day's journey from the Nile in ancient times. The local Coptic population is also proud of the Lillian Trasher orphanage which was founded in the 1900s.
Another ancient monastery just located 45 minutes drive from the city of Asyut is the Harraq monastery. A souvenir shop, churches, a library, and an old mansion transform the scenery into a completely magnificent tableau. The monastery palace which was built in 1910 also has many ancient manuscripts. The monastery not only hosts ancient architecture and texts but is also a place where locals interact in a friendly manner and children have great fun playing.
The city of Asyut is a perfect destination for tourists who want to bask in the marvels of ancient Egypt while still enjoying a holiday with all amenities.