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El-Saf, Egypt

City of the Dead

An endless sea of white conical domes. 

Just outside the central Egyptian city of Minya lies the cemetery Zawiyyet al-Mayyiteen. Dubbed the “City of the Dead,” it is considered one of the world’s largest cemeteries. It is a truly huge necropolis, but more significant than its size is its thought-provoking beauty.

Comprised of innumerable white conical domes, that stretch out across a wide plain, the necropolis appears similar to waves in the sea. Each of the several hundred mud-brick mausolea of the necropolis is topped with a dome. The cemetery stretches for several kilometers and was used by Muslims and Coptic Christians alike.

A couple of rock-cut tombs from the Old Kingdom are found at the edge of the site, as well as a small step pyramid from the early 3rd dynasty. The pyramid is remarkable because it is the only pyramid built on the eastern bank of the Nile.

The necropolis is particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset. However, visitors should be aware that this is a working cemetery and should be respectful and modestly dressed.

Know Before You Go

7 km southeast of Minya; Minya Governorate; Egypt