Sohag Tourist Attractions
The provincial capital of Sohag lies on the west bank of the Nile, here spanned by a large bridge (one section of which is a swing bridge), at the point where the Sohagiya Canal branches off the river.Sohag has cotton weaving factories and other textile industries, a busy bazaar, several mosques of no particular interest and a large Coptic Cathedral of the early 20th C.
Some 15mi/25km north-northwest of Sohag, on the edge of the desert hills, is the ancient White Monastery, also known as Deir Amba Shenuda after its most notable Abbot, Shenute.The monastery, centered on the church (built 440), is surrounded by a high wall of white limestone blocks which gives it something of the aspect of a fortress. The wall and the entrance gateway on the south side have the cavetto cornice familiar in Egyptian temples. The church, entered through a narthex with an apse at the west end, is an aisled basilica with a trilobate sanctuary, consisting of a square domed central area and three apses with semi domes. In the sanctuary and the nave are columns from the nearby ancient city of Atrepe (Athribis). The apses have two rows of five niches alternating with columns. Some of the ceiling paintings are well preserved. At the west end of the church is a second narthex with a pillared apse at the north end. The many treasures once contained in the monastery library are now in European collections.
4mi/6km west of the White Monastery in Sohag is the Red Monastery (Deir el-Ahmar), also known as Deir Abu Bshoi, now enclosed on two sides by modern buildings. The church, built at the same time as the White Monastery, was originally an aisled basilica with finely carved capitals. The sanctuary has apses, columns and poorly preserved ceiling paintings.
Abu Shusha (west bank of the Nile), the ancient Egyptian Per-djodj. 3mi/5km southeast is the village of Samhud, built on mounds of rubble marking an ancient site.
The modest district capital of Akhmim lies 3mi/5km east of Sohag on the right bank of the Nile, just north of a wide loop in the river. It has a number of cotton mills and a lively bazaar. Akhmim is one of the great centers of the Coptic faith, with several churches.HistoryAkhmim occupies the site of the ancient Chemmis or Panopolis, which was the chief town of a nome. The Egyptians called it Epu, and also Khente-Min, after its protective deity, the ithyphallic harvest god Min: hence the Coptic name of Shmin and the Arabic Akhmim. Herodotus (ii, 91) praises the citizens of Chemmis as the only Egyptians who favored Greek customs and relates that they erected a temple to Perseus and worshiped him with Hellenic rites. Strabo refers to the weavers and stone cutters of Panopolis. The town continued to flourish during the Roman period, and its ancient and famous temple was enlarged in the 12th year of Trajan's reign (A.D. 109). In Christian times many religious houses were built around Panopolis. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, who had been banished to the Kharga Oasis because he did not acknowledge the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God, died in Panopolis. Even after the Arab Conquest Akhmim was described by Abulfida and other writers as a great city, with temples which were among the finest remains of the Pharaonic period.There are only scanty remains of the once flourishing ancient city, among them a few sandstone blocks belonging to a temple in the northeast of the town and a number of columns, some of which still stand erect.
During excavations in 1981 the colossal statue of an Egyptian queen, with an estimated total height of 33ft/ 10m, was brought to light.
Extensive necropolises have been found in the low hills some 3mi/5km northeast of Akhmim. They are reached by way of the village of El-Hawawish (2.5mi/4km), just beyond which, in a hill, are many ancient tombs, now totally destroyed.The tombs farther to the north are older, dating from the Roman, Ptolemaic and Egyptian periods. Higher up in the hills lie sixth Dynasty tombs. South of Akhmim is a rock chapel constructed in the reign of King Ay (18th Dynasty).
North and west of El-Hawawish extends a Christian cemetery used from the fifth to the 15th C. In the vicinity is a Coptic monastery.
Nag Hammadi (west bank of the Nile). The main road and railroad now cross to the east bank, which they follow to Aswan.