Qena Tourist Attractions
The busy provincial capital of Qena, the ancient Cainepolis, lies on the east bank of the Nile, a mile or so from the river. The town itself has no features of tourist interest, but it is the nearest place to the Temple of Hathor at Dendera.Qena is noted for its pottery, in particular the porous water bottles (kulal, singular kulla) made from the local clay which are sold all over Egypt. Evaporation keeps the water in these bottles 9-11 °F/5-6 °C below the outside temperature.From Qena a road crosses the Eastern Desert to Bur Safaga on the Red Sea.
The ruins of the ancient city of Dendera are located on the west bank of the Nile, across from Qena. This was once among Egypt's most famous cities, and the capital of Upper Egypt.
Qift (east bank of the Nile), on the site of ancient Coptos, which developed into a great trading town at an early period and in Graeco-Roman times was still an important entrepot on the trade route from Arabia and India. The town's protective divinity was the ithyphallic harvest god Min (Pan), the patron of desert travelers. Coptos was the starting point of the expeditions which set out on the journey from the Nile Valley across the desert to the Red Sea, heading for the Sinai Peninsula and for the Land of Punt (probably on the coast of presentday Somalia), which supplied Egypt with incense, ivory, ebony, panther skins and other precious wares and, like India, was a land of fabulous wonders. The Egyptians also went to the desert Valley of the Wadi el-Hammamat for the sake of its hard stone, much prized for use in sculpture.During the great rising in Upper Egypt in A.D. 292, in the reign of Diocletian, Coptos was besieged and destroyed. It made a rapid recovery, however, and was still a populous and prosperous town in the time of the Caliphs.
Silwa (east bank). On the west bank is the village of El-Hosh, near which, on Gebel Abu Shega, are ancient quarries, with Greek inscriptions dated to the 11th year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 149) recording that stone was hewn here for a Temple of Horus (Apollo), probably in Edfu. A short distance upstream is the Valley of Khor Tangura. Some 2mi/3km up the valley, on a rock face on the right hand side, are fine prehistoric engravings (elephants, antelopes, giraffes, a boat, etc.). There are similar engravings on a rock on the edge of the Nile, south of the valley. Farther south, below Silsila, on the left hand side of a rock face a few yards from the river bank, is a curious relief known as the Shatt el-Rigal. This depicts a petty King called Entef doing homage to King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (11th Dynasty) and the Queen Mother Yoh, with an official named Kheti standing behind Entef. On the same rock face, higher up, are other inscriptions and reliefs of the Middle Kingdom and Early New Kingdom.
Samalut (west bank of the Nile) is a district capital on the lbrahimiya Canal, with a Coptic church and a sugar factory. Soon after this, at the mouth of a side valley on the east bank, is seen a steep rocky hill, the Gebel el-Teir (Bird Mountain), on the flat top of which is the Coptic Monastery of Deir Gebel el-Teir, also known as Deir el-Baqara or Deir el-Adra (Monastery of the Virgin). A steep flight of steps runs up to the top of the hill. The monastery, surrounded by a wall of dressed stone dating from the Roman period, consists of a group of very modest buildings now mainly inhabited by peasants. The church is said to have been founded by the Empress Helena over a cave in which the Holy Family rested during their flight into Egypt. The sanctuary is hewn from the rock, with a doorway, now half buried in rubble, decorated in Byzantine style. From the top of the hill there is a fine view of the Nile Valley with its fields of cotton and sugar cane plantations.
South of Tihna el-Gebel (along the east banks of the Nile, then over a narrow canal and through fields) is a low ridge (65-80ft/20-25m) containing Egyptian rock tombs which were reused in the Greek period. Here, too, is a temple of the Roman Imperial period, half hewn from the rock and half in masonry, with limestone columns; and on the river side of the hill is a chapel with a relief of a bald headed man in Roman dress before Egyptian gods. To the north, towards the village, are the remains of brick buildings belonging to the ancient town of Tenis oracoris, in the Hermopolitan nome. Half an hour's walk south, buried under fallen rock, are three rock tombs of the Old Kingdom with interesting inscriptions (testaments). Carved on the rock face is a colossal figure of Ramesses III making offerings to Sobek (Suchos) and Amun. In the valley on the far side of the hill, to the north of a Muslim cemetery, are Graeco-Roman and Christian necropolises.
The ancient "Porphyry Road" (almost impassable in places) goes off on the left, at first following the Wadi Qena, then turning into the Wadi el-Atrash and continuing along the south side of Gebel el-Dukhan ("Smoke Mountain"; 4,446ft/1,360m), the ancient Mons Porphyrites, to reach the Red Sea. At the old Roman porphyry quarries on Gebel el-Dukhan are the ruins of an unfinished Ionic temple of the time of Hadrian, remains of an irregularly laid out settlement and two large cisterns.
On the Hill Of El-Sirag (east bank of the Nile) are the picturesque ruins of a Late Byzantine fortified town, with a church and monastery, perhaps the ancient Thmuis. In the vicinity are old quarries with inscriptions (including one in the name of Tuthmosis III). The nummilitic limestone of the hills now gives place to sandstone, the material used in most of the monumental buildings of Upper Egypt.
In the Nile is the large island of El-Siriya. Opposite, on the east bank, is the village of El-Siriva, to the north and south of which are ancient quarries, with a Chapel of Hathor built by Merneptah (reliefs of offerings). On the rock face Ramesses III is depicted between Hathor and a god.
El-Matana (east bank of the Nile). On the west bank is the village of Asfun el-Matana, the ancient Asphunis (Egyptian Hesfun).