Al-Fayoum: A paradise in the desert for the Pharaohs and safari lovers
April 15, 2022 - 17:04 Updated: April 15, 2022 - 17:1907

Lakes and valleys of great history are home to many attractions over different eras; Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, along with sand dunes, palm trees, lakes, valleys, wildlife and various bird species. It is the land of pristine nature and rich history. Scientists call it micro-Egypt.

It is located approximately a hundred kilometres southwest of Cairo. It has moderate weather throughout the year. The Fayoum Governorate is located in Central Egypt in the West of the Nile River in the heart of the desert. It is considered a desert crossroads to Saqqqara, Dahshur, Al Wasati, Medum, Saddomt Al Jabal, Rayan Valley ayan and Bahariya Oasis

Al-Fayoum is distinguished by its waterwheels, which operates throughout the year and is made from local foliage. They amount to 200 waterwheels that are scattered in the fields on watercourses at the dams. This type of waterwheels is found in Al-Fayoum alone in Egypt. 

Origin of the name of Fayoum
Fayoum is rooted in the depths of history, as it was known in the past as (Mir Wear), meaning the great sea, where the water used to cover the entire Fayoum depression. Then it was called (Chdat or Chedit), meaning the island, because it was at the time of its formation located in Lake Morris, and its religious name is (Per Sebek). It means the house of the crocodile, because it was the idol of the people of Fayoum in the past, and for this reason the Romans called it Crocodilopolis, meaning the city of the crocodile. In the early days of the Ptolemaic rule, Ptolemy II called it Philadev (Arsineo) after his wife and the region was also named Arsinoe. Then, the Copts called it (Piom), which means the base of the country of the lake, because the word (piom) which was later known as (Phiom) consists of two words:  pi and it denotes the place and definition, and the word im means the water, the lake or the sea, and from (Phiom) the Arabs derived the word (Fayoum), and added to it the definite article, the same way they added it to many names of Egyptian cities and villages, and it became Al-Fayoum, which is its Arabic name.

Fayoum is a deep depression in the limestone plateau of the Western Desert, which is surrounded by the desert on every side except for the southeast. The total area of the governorate is 6068.70 km. This depression is similar to the depressions of the Western Desert, where most of its parts are located below sea level. It is considered an internal drainage area, but it differs from it in its connection to the Nile through the Bahr Yusef Canal, which covered its lands with the silt of Abyssinia, and therefore it is considered part of the Nile Valley. This depression arose as a result of a geological development over time, which was caused by air erosion and other natural, underground and surface factors.

The potentials of tourist attractions in Fayoum are represented in various elements that allow the availability of many types of tourism in Fayoum, such as eco-tourism, safari tourism, cultural tourism and recreational tourism.

The most important tourist attractions in Fayoum are:

Fayoum was part of the twentieth district of Upper Egypt, and its capital was Ihnasiya. Fayoum witnessed its brightest age in the Pharaonic era, and many traces were found in it indicating the extent of its status in this period, including:

Silla Pyramid: It is located on the eastern edge of the Fayoum depression. It is built on a high rise and has a stepped shape and dates back to the Third Dynasty.

Qasr El Sagha Temple: It is located 8 km north of Lake Qarun. It is a limestone and sandstone building.

Cayman Fares: It is the origin of the ancient city of Fayoum. It was founded in the era of the Fifth Dynasty. It flourished during the era of the 12th Dynasty. King Amenemhat III established in it the temple of the god Sobek. He named it (Shedt) and then it was named (Arsinoe) in honor of his wife. Its ruins are among the widest known remains of the Egyptian cities. Antiquities were found in there including a statue of Imenhat III made of black granite, papyri, bronze coins, and pottery statues.

The Obelisk of Senusret: It is a granite stand with a height of 13 meters and its top is round and has a hole to install the crown or statue of the king. It was built in the era of King Senusret I of the 12th Dynasty to commemorate the start of reform the land of Fayoum to an agricultural land and it was moved from its original place in the village of Abjij in Fayoum to the entrance to the city Fayoum in 1972.

The pyramid of Hawara: It is located in the village of Hawara, 9 km southeast of the city of Fayoum. This pyramid was built of mud bricks and then covered from the outside with limestone, and its height is 58 meters. This pyramid was built by King Amenemhat III of the 12th Dynasty.

The ruins of Madi City: It is located about 35 km southwest of the city of Fayoum and includes the ruins of a temple from the 12th Dynasty era built by both King Amenemhat III and IV. It is considered the largest temple remaining from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt.

The Lahoun Pyramid: A mud-brick building that was clad in limestone, with a height of 48 meters and a base length of 106 meters. Its entrance is located on the southern side. It was built by King Senusret II of the Twelfth Dynasty and is 22 km away from the city of Fayoum.

The bases of the two statues of Amenemhat II: The two bases built of limestone are located in the village of Behmo, 7 km from the city of Fayoum. King Amenemhat II had erected them as bases carved in quartz for two large statues of him and his wife overlooking the ancient Morris Lake (Qarun).

Greek and Roman Antiquities

There are several archaeological sites in the Fayoum region expressing the Greco-Roman civilization, including:

Qasr Qarun Temple (Dionysias): It is located on the southwestern edge of Lake Qarun, 50 km from the city of Fayoum.

Batn Ihrit: It is the ruins of a village northwest of Fayoum that was established in the Ptolemaic period. Inscriptions and papyri were found in it.

The city of Karanis: It is located on the Fayoum-Cairo Desert Road, 33 km from Fayoum and 109 km from Cairo. The city dates back to the third century BC. It includes the remains of two temples dedicated to the worship of the god Sobek (the crocodile), the god of the region. It also includes a Roman bath and a group of houses. On the opposite side there are city cemeteries.

Coptic Antiquities

Fayoum city is full of several churches and monasteries, including:

Al-Azeb Monastery (Demoshe): An old monastery dating back to the Roman era. It is located in the village of Al-Azab, 5 km south of Faiyum. It was known as the monastery of the Virgin Mary and the martyr Abu Sefein. It was called the Monastery of St. Abram because the body of St. Abram is in it.

The Monastery of the Archangel (Gabriel) in Jabal al-Naqluun: It is located 16 km southeast of the city of Fayoum in Jabal al-Naqluun, the center of Itsa. It dates back to the third century AD. It is known as the monastery of Abu Khashaba. It is considered the only monastery in Egypt that bears the name of the angel Gabriel.

Islamic Antiquities

Prince Suleiman Mosque: The establishment of this mosque goes back to the early Ottoman era. It was built in Fayoum on the month of Rajab in the year 966 AH / 1560 AD. This mosque is located in the center of the city of Fayoum. The mosque was known as “Al-Mu’allaq”(Hanged) due to its height above the surface of the earth. Prince “Sulaiman Min Janem Min Qasrouh” ordered its construction.

Khawand Aslbai Mosque: This mosque was built by Khawand Aslbai, the wife of Sultan Qaytbay during the reign of her son, Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qaitbay. The mosque of "Khawand Aslbai" is located at the far north end of the western part of the city of Fayoum.

Sheikh Ali Al-Rubi Mosque: It was established by Sheikh Ali Al-Rubi in the 8th century AH, during the mandate of the first reign of Sultan "Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun". The lineage of Sheikh Ali Al-Rubi is related to the Abbasid house, as he is a descendant of Abdullah bin Abbas, the uncle of the Messenger “may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

Fayoum cultural landmarks:

Waterwheels: Waterwheels are considered one of the most important landmarks of Fayoum Governorate, as it is the only governorate in Egypt that has this type of waterwheels. In fulfillment of their role in spreading greenery and agriculture in Fayoum districts, it has been placed as a slo