Medinet el Fayoum

Medinet el Fayoum There are three main routes to Medinet el Fayoum and the various sites along the way.

Kom Aushim to Medinet el Fayoum

Kom Aushim sits at the eastem entrance to the Fayoum. Directly ahead is the lake and to the south is Medinet Fayoum, the capital of the oasis.

To reach Medinet F ayoum, turn south at the second tum immediately after Kom Aushim.

This is the new high-way and it bypasses all the villages, taking you directly to the obelisk.

Auberge to Medinet Fayoum The road south from the lake to Medinet el Fayoum is found 2 km (1.2 miles) to the east of the Auberge.

Medinet el Fayoum

This is a drive through Orchard country.

The village of Sarrhur is 7 km (4.3 miles) from the begimiing of the road.

From the main crossroads in the center of town, the route east leads to Ibshaway, the route west to Simiuris, and the route south to Medinet F ayoum.

A mere 2 km (1.2 miles) south is Fidimin, which is known for its children’s weaving school.

Open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., it features weaving, tapestry, embroidery, and beadwork.

Two km (1.2 miles) beyond Fidimin is the famous spring, Ain al-Siliyin. Located across the from the University of Pisa has been working there since 1966.

It has done epigraphic work and visual graphics of the temple and uncovered a large Roman town and ten churches from the sixth and seventh centuries.

In nearby Khelua (Kom Ruqayya), the team has excavated and restored Middle Kingdom tombs.

Follow the road southeast from Qasr Qarun.

At the small village of Menshat Sef, cross over the canal and head for the desert (through a cemetery).

Once atop the rise, the temple is visible 4 km (2.5 miles) away.

The site is accessible by regular vehicle.

road from the village of Siliyin, the area around the natural spring has been converted into a pleasure park, with bridges, a swimming pool, chalets, cafeterias, and a windmill.

Extremely popular on Fridays and holidays, it is pleasant to visit the park during the week, when it is empty.

Medinet el Fayoum

The next community is Beni Salih.

The brick making industry is located along this road.

People here still make bricks in the traditional way.

Four km (2.5 miles) to the south, the main road veers left. Although the right fork also goes to Medinet Fayoum, the left fork is the preferred route never used Nile cruise.

(The fonner passes through Mishat Abdullah on its way to Kiman Faris, the ancient city of Medinet el Fayoum.) Less than a kilometer later, the road crosses a small canal called Bahr Tirsa.

Bahr Yusif down the canal to see a pair of waterwheels.

The dual carriageway leading to the city is about 2 km (1.2 miles) later.

Shakshuk to Medinet el Fayoum Villagers along this seldom-used route are not accustomed to seeing foreign visitors and their zeal, especially that of the children, can be overwhehning, but the drive is a pleasant one through farmland and fields of fiowers.

The road twists and turns through the fields and villages.

Many of the small hamlets have interesting colonial houses left over from the time when the

land was owned by rich families and the farmers tilled the soil, planted and harvested the crops, and were subject to a feudal way of life.

Five km (3.1 miles) after leaving Shakshuk one comes to a crossroads: left goes back to the Auberge, straight leads to Sanhur, and right to Ibshaway. Tumi right,

and after a kilometer is the village of Abud. Three km (1.8 miles) later there is a fork in the road.

Right goes to Qarun and left to the village of Faruqa.

At the entrance to the village is a marvelous old mansion surrounded by exquisite trees and a lovely garden.

Beyond the mansion is the railroad crossing and the village of Abuksa, with an old railway station.

Less than a kilometer from Faruqél, there is a crossroads.

Left goes to Ibshaway is the row of colonial houses lining either side of the road as one enters the town.

Medinet el Fayoum

They are followed by orchards that give way to the main city, entered through a treelined street leading to an old railroad station.

Ibshaway is a large city as far as the Fayoum goes and is a pleasant place to wander around.

Continue down the main street, cross over the railroad tracks, and take a left. Less than a kilometer later, still in the city, cross over a small bridge and take the right fork.

Soon fields of flowers come into view.

These flowers, harvested for sale to perfumeries in Europe and America, vary with the season.

They continue in patches on either side of the road for over 3 km (1.8 miles).

Petals are collected and can be seen strewn in huge heaps on the ground.

They are crated for shipping. At a picturesque traffic stop the road comes to an end.

A right tum goes to Qarun and a left to Nazla, the pottery village.

From Nazla the road continues through Minya and Abgig to Medinet el Fayoum.

Medinet el Fayoum N 29 18 775 E 30 51 607 Known as Shedet during the Old Kingdom and Kroeodilopolis in Greco-Roman times, the capital of the Fayoum sits in the center of the depression like the hub of a wheel, with roads, railroads, and canals radiating to all parts of the oasis. R. Neil Hewison reported in his Fayoum: A Practical Guide that some modem Fayoumis believe the medieval city was built in a thousand days, or abfyawm, and that this is how it got its name.

Canals are the major feature of the city.

Straddling Bahr Yusif and its eight tributaries, the city is the Venice of Egypt.

(Two canals actually divert from the Bahr Yusif within the city and the remaining six

at the westem edge of town.) There are bridges everywhere, crossing and recross-

ing the canals.


Moved from its former site in the village of Abgig, the red granite obelisk created in honor of Senusert I of the Twelfth Dynasty now stands at the northern entrance to Medinet el Fayoum. Although it is called an obelisk, its fonn is more that of a stela.

An obelisk is a tall, thin, four-sided monument tapering as it rises and ending in a four- sided pyramid.

A stela is usually much shorter, rectangular, and rounded at the top.

Medinet el Fayoum


Waterwheels under repair along the Bahr Among the most interesting sites in the Fayoum are the ancient waterwheels. Over two hundred of them once straddled the canals.

Unique to the area, the wooden wheels are driven by the fast-moving water of the canals and were introduced into the Fayoum during Ptolemaic times.

They are 4 to 5 meters (12 to 14 ft) in diameter and coated with black tar to protect the wood. Each waterwheel can lift the water 3 meters (10 ft), spilling it onto higher ground.

January is the month set aside throughout Egypt for cleaning the canals.

The sluices are closed and in the Fayoum all the functioning waterwheels are cleaned and repaired. Although created centuries ago, each wheel has a life expectancy of only ten years and many parts have to be repaired each season.

Medinet el Fayoum

In addition to the four moaning and groaning in the center of the city, the famous seven, hallmarks of the Fayoum, are located in the countryside along Bahr Sinnuris.

There are additional waterwheels

on various canals in the area. A horse and buggy is the best way to see the waterwheels. Catch a ride at the cafeteria.

To reach the seven waterwheels from the main square, cross over the railroad tracks behind the cafeteria and turn left, or west.

Continue for six or seven long blocks until you see a blue tourist sign on the right side. Continue to the Bahr Sirmuris.


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