Girga is located in the Sohag Governorate of Upper Egypt. The city shares its boundaries with the west bank of the Nile. Until 1960, Girga was the capital of the governorate, however, at that point, the capital was shifted to Sohag. The estimated population of Girga is about 71,564. The town is renowned for its sugar refining industry and pottery production. It's also home to many other industries as well. Some believe that an ancient city once flourished where the town is now located, but there is no confirmed evidence for that. Also, some believe Girga was where the village of Birba was once situated. Birba was Egypt’s capital during the 1st and 2nd dynasties in ancient Egypt. Due to its hot weather, Girga is classified as a hot desert region with extreme summer temperatures.
History of the City of Girga
Girga is said to have derived its name from the old monastery named Mar Girgis Coptic Monastery, which was constructed as a dedication to St. George. The town is the seat of the Coptic Bishop. Another notable site here is el-Sini, touted to be the oldest Roman Catholic Monastery in Egypt. It was almost swept away by the River Nile at one time. Girga is also famous for its beautiful paved suq (market) and the Porcelain Mosque el-Sini. Another site worth visiting is Beit Khallaf, which is an ancient site and a necropolis where visitors can still see tombs made from mudbrick said to have been constructed during the 3rd Dynasty. In the 14th century, the city became the center of the Hawwarah, which is an Arabized Amazigh tribe. In 1576 the Hawwarah were conquered by Egypt’s Ottoman governor who transformed this into the seat of the governor of Upper Egypt.
Girga has always been renowned as a significant area for grain production, a part of which was always sent to Cairo and to Mecca and Medina via the Red Sea and acting as the basic diet of these holy cities. During Muhammad Ali’s reign in 1859, the city was absorbed into another territorial unit after which the capital of the province was shifted to Sohag.
Tourist Information About Girga
Tourists visiting Egypt must visit Girga to see what everyone is talking about. There is a reason it is one of the major tourist destinations in Egypt. The beauty of the surrounding landscape is simply spellbinding and the interesting sights in the city are enough to keep the whole family fascinated. The city has many fine mosques and is popular for its pottery which is of very high quality. Other famous industries include sugar refinery, cotton-weaving, and dairying industries. The sugar refinery here was expanded in the 1980s to increase its production to 75,000 tons per year. The city produces large amounts of cereals, cotton, dates, and sugarcane. Outside the town, there is a popular Catholic monastery, and towards the south 10 miles away are the remains of the ancient city Abydos. The tombs of the nobles on the east bank lie on the limestone cliff face.
Some famous tourist locations in and around Girga include
- Porcelain Mosque or the El-Sini Mosque
- Various ancient sites in Girga
- The site at Beit Khallaf
- Tombs made from mudbrick
- Tombs made from mudbrick in Girga
Beit Khallaf is a small town located 10 km west of Girga. During excavations surrounding the village, many human bones and offering vessels were found. Beit Khallaf mastabas burial mounds are huge structures made from mud bricks belonging to the early dynastic era. They were investigated by John Garstang in the early 20th century. There were five monumental mastabas made from mud brick discovered in a low desert behind this village. The K1 and K2 mastabas lie about 10 km west of Girga on a low desert plateau. The site also has remains from the kings Djoser and Sanakht respectively.
The Bottom Line
Often referred to as the village of the mud or clay, Girga is believed to have been the headquarters for the First Pharaoh who ruled in Egypt. The first Pharoah has been named Mina Narmer. He is famous for trying to unify Egypt while transferring his capital to Memphis. The city thus has a rich historical past associated tied to its existence today, which is fascinating and wonderful to explore in person.