It is an Egyptian city and oasis in the Western Desert, about 300 km from the Mediterranean coast to the southwest of Marsa Matruh , and it belongs to the Matrouh Governorate administratively. There are wells and springs that are used for irrigation, drinking, natural water filling and treatment throughout it, and it has four major lakes, while it discovered several ancient places such as the Temple of Amun, which witnesses the phenomenon of spring equinox twice a year, and the tombs of the Mountain of the Dead, and declared a natural reserve of an area of 7800 Also, it includes many types of animal and plant life forms. The oasis is inhabited by approximately 35,000 people, most of whom work in agriculture or tourism. The desert continental climate prevails in the oasis, as it is very hot in the summer, while the winter is warm during the very cold day at night.
Siwa is known for its medical tourism, as it has natural sand suitable for alternative medicine. Safari trips with four-wheel drive are popular for Oasis visitors. Some statistics indicate that Siwa receives about 30 thousand tourists annually from Egyptians and foreigners. It was ranked by a number of foreign and Arab sites among the 9 most isolated places on the planet. The architecture in Siwa has a special and distinctive character, as traditional houses are built with stone art that consists of salt and fine sand mixed with clay. Doors and windows are made of olive and palm trees. The embroidery arts and handcrafted pottery industries are among the most distinguished traditional crafts in the oasis, on top of which are the tagine plates, the desert cooking utensils with a traditional pyramidal shape and beautifully decorated. The Siwa people have a special feast, which is the harvest feast they celebrate when the full moon in the sky in October of each year.
Some suggest that the name Siwa came from the word “secht am” and means the land of palm trees, or it returns to the old name “That.” And the ancient oasis was called by many names, including “penta”, and this name was found in one of the texts recorded in the Edfu temple , and it was called “Amon Oasis” until the era of the Ptolemies who called it “Jupiter Amun Oasis”, and the Arabs known it as “Al-Aqsa Oasis”, which is the name that was mentioned In Al-Maqrizi’s plans. While Ibn Khaldun referred to it as “Tensawah”, which is the name of a branch of the Zintana tribes in North Africa, as the Idrisi referred to it as “Centria”, and he said that it is inhabited by a people mixture of Berbers and Bedouins.
Before the year 2900 BC, a group of Libyans who knew the people of wiping or stepping down to attack the Lower Egypt, and they were taking from Siwa Oasis as a center for their encroachment on Egypt , then King Snefru , the last king of the third family, attacked and seized the oasis, so as to ward off the evil of the Libyans. In 1970 BC, the Libyan tribes invaded Lower Egypt by way of Siwa, and King Sizostris, the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty, fought them to return them to their lands. In 1547 BC, the Libyans attacked Egypt, taking advantage of its ruler’s preoccupation with the war in Nubia, but King Amenhotep the First inflicted heavy losses on them. During the reign of King Muftenah, the Pharaoh repelled the Libyans’ attack by land and sea.
- Cambyses Army
After the Persians occupied Egypt, their commander sent Cambys his army to occupy Siwa, which the priests of God Amun had foretold in him. They predicted a deadly end for him. And after that incident, the prophecy of the priesthood was fulfilled, and he fell ill and died.
- Visit Alexander the Great
After Alexander the Great entered Egypt and constructed the city of Alexandria , he decided to visit the Temple of Amun in Siwa, which gained wide fame after the incident of Cambyses Army. In the winter of 331 BC, Alexander arrived at the Temple of Amun in Siwa and the high priest took him to the Holy of Holies – a dark room that only the high priest and king would enter – and none of his aides was allowed to accompany him. And when Alexander got out of the temple, he seemed relieved, and refused to disclose what happened inside. All he said to his friends was, “I heard what my heart loved.”
Siwa remained independent in its civilization and lifestyle after the Islamic conquest of Egypt. Commander Musa bin Nusair tried to open it in the year708 AD during the Umayyad era as ruler of North Africa, and he moved to it and found a city surrounded by a great fortress that had iron doors, but he found it difficult to enter and left it, and whoever It is likely that the entry of the Islamic religion to Siwa was before the end of the first century AH. In 969 CE , the Fatimid armies captured the oasis.
The modern era
In February 1820 equipped with Muhammad Ali Pasha , stripped of 1,300 soldiers led by your good Achammahrgi to open Siwa, and fighting broke out between the troops and the people of the oasis ended with the victory of the forces of Muhammad Ali and their recognition of loyalty to the Egyptian government. In the modern era, the armies of the Axis entered the oasis and occupied them on July 20,1942, and evacuated them on November 8,1942, after their defeat in the Battle of El Alamein.
Geography and population
Siwa is one of the depressions of the Western Desert that formed a green oasis covering an area of 1088 km. Siwa City has an area of 94,263 km² and follows Matrouh Governoratee 820 , km from Cairo 65 , km from the Libyan border 300 , km west of Marsa Matrouh and 600 km west of the Nile Valley. It is bordered to the north by a series of rocky mountains, and to the south by a series of sand dunes, and enjoys a moderate climate throughout the winter, and is 18 meters below the sea level, which makes its underground water close and easy to use, which is based on the cultivation of palm trees and olive trees that produce dates and olives of the finest in Egypt, in the middle of the oasis are four salt lakes, which are Lake Al-Maasar, northeast of the oasis, Lake Al-Zaytoun, east of the oasis, Lake Siwa, west of the city of Shali, and Lake Al-Maraki in the west. There are many deserted oases and depressions of Siwa, including Shatha Oasis, 55 km west of Siwa, Al-Malfi Oasis 75 km northwest of Siwa, Al-Alaraj Oasis, Al-Nawasah Oasis, and Bahrain Oasis. Siwa dominates the desert continental climate, as it is very hot in summer. As for its winters, it warms a very cold day at night, and the most dangerous thing that Siwa is exposed to is torrents.
Siwa is inhabited by about 35 thousand people, inhabited by tribes of Berber origin, namely, the adulterers, the hammuds, the blacksmiths, the sons of Musa, the Aghormi, the spies, the Sharamtah, the Sarhana, the Maraqi, the Shehaim, the Umm al-Sagheer, the Shahibat, and each tribe of sheikhs, families, and individuals, and the sheikh is the head of the tribe, It is one of the largest, the well-to-do and the good manners. In most cases, the sheikhdom is hereditary. As for the families of the tribe, they are members of its council and they are required to enjoy good conduct. The researchers disagree about their origins, between Eastern Arab donkeys, Canaanite, European, Greek, or Indo-European, but most studies suggest the African origin of the Berbers. Archaeological excavations suggest that the Berbers entered Egypt in the late Pharaonic era and formed their families in them and the ancient Egyptians called them “disorganized”, and they ruled Egypt at the hands of their leader “Shishenq the First” and their rule fell over time and they were confined to Siwa Oasis and preserved their customs, traditions and language.
One of the traditions of marriage in Siwa is to preach to girls from their young age at the age of nine or earlier, and until the bride completes the age of marriage, the young man has no right to see his fiancée except on holidays only and that is in the presence of her father or her brother. The marriage ceremony extends to 3 days and the bride is adorned with the work of 99 braids. Each braid bears a name of God’s Most Beautiful Names, and places olive oil on her hair and colored with henna. The bride wears seven different dresses on top of each other, the first is transparent white, the second is transparent red, the third is black, the fourth is yellow, the fifth is blue, the sixth is pink silk, and the seventh outer is embroidered with a collar around the neck.
Childbirth has its own ritual rituals. If it is difficult, the husband and his neighbors release gunshots next to his wife to expel the jinn and expedite the birth. Her baby lies on a rug furnished on the ground for a week or ten days, and she eats salted fish, as an inherited tradition. The people of the oasis believe that the eye of the woman whose husband dies is strong and brings envy, so she lives in isolation for forty days, and does not marry a year before the death of her husband. Girls up to the age of twelve participate in popular ceremonies, revealing half of her hair, while a married woman is not allowed to go out of the way unless she covers all of her body and face with a blue sheet called “Tarfout”, and she is not allowed to go on the road where she is traveling in a kazza cart.
- The language
The Sueyun speak in the split accent of Tassiot about the Berber or Berber language, which is due to Ham Ibn Noah, and every child in Siwa speaks by virtue of birth and upbringing, then learns the Arabic language during the stages of study, in addition to their modern Egyptian dialect.
Natural and tourist attractions
Despite the occurrence of “Siwa” in the desert, fresh water spreads throughout it in the form of a large number of wells and eyes, up to 200 eyes flowing daily from 190 thousand cubic meters of water, used for irrigation, drinking, natural water filling and treatment, and the amount of its water varies from a well For another,
it sometimes clusters in one area, including hot and cold, sweet and salty in addition to sulfur eyes, and from those eyes Ain Tzjezr, Ain Dakrur, Ain Quresh, Ain Al Hamam, Ain Thamousa, Ain Khamisa, Ain Al Djerba, Ain Al Shifa, Ain Musandat, and among the most famous :
- Ain Cleopatra : It is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Siwa, also known as Ein Juba or Eye of the Sun.It is a stone bath filled with natural hot spring water, and some claim that it was named after the Egyptian queen that she swam in on her own while visiting Siwa, while Some deny that this visit occurred primarily.
- Ain Fatnas : about 6 km west of Siwa, located on the island of Fatnas overlooking the salt lake, surrounded by palm trees and the desert landscape.
- One eye : It is also called the “Great Sand Sea”, and it is a hot sulfuric fountain 10 km from the oasis near the Libyan border in the heart of the Great Sand Sea.
- Kegar’s Eye : The eyes of water that are used for therapeutic purposes are rheumatic, with rheumatic psoriasis.
Salt water lakes
Siwa has four main lakes, the Lake of Olives, east of Siwa, with an area of 5760 acres, Lake Agurmie or Al-Maasar in the northeast of the oasis, with an area of 960 acres, Lake Siwa, west of the city of Shali, with an area of 3,600 acres, and Lake Al-Maraqi, west of the oasis in the Bahiy ad-Din area with an area of 700 acres. The oasis includes several other lakes, including Lake Taghagin, Lake Al-Awsat and Lake Shatha, and Lake Fatnas is one of the attractions of tourism and is located 5 km west of Siwa, and by this lies the island of Fatnas which is surrounded by the lake from three directions, and in front of it is Jabal Jaafar.
The area of the reserve is 7800 km. It is divided into 3 sectors: the eastern sector with an area of about 6000 km, the western sector with an area of about 1700 km, the southern central sector with an area of about 100 km. The area has been classified as a nature reserve because of its rich biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage, in which many mammals, reptiles, birds, invertebrates and insects live, including the endangered horned deer, Phenic fox, chita, and cats endangered, and common bird species such as pigeons are found on its soil. And migratory birds, as well as forms of plant life.
Mountain of the Dead
It is a mountain that includes a group of ancient tombs dating back to the period between the fourth and third centuries BC, which were reused during the Greek and Roman eras. The mountain is about 2 km from Siwa, and tombs were discovered in it as a result of the flight of the Siwa people to the mountain during the raids of World War II.
- The Cemetery of Thoth
It is the tomb of a priest of the god Osiris, who received the title of the Great in the city of the just and the upright. The tomb carved a hymn to the god Thoth, as well as a scene of religious ritual known as the Four Bulls Cloud.
- Sea Amon Cemetery
It is one of the most important ancient tombs of the Western Sahara, inside which many mummies were found. The importance of the cemetery to clarify the marriage between the ancient Egyptian art and Greek art , and the most important artistic images cemetery view of the court hall of Osiris , and the view of the goddess Nut goddess of the sky.
- Cemetery cemetery
It is one of the most important archaeological tombs excavated in Jabal al-Mouti. Discovered in 1940 , I knew this name due to the disappearance of the name of the cemetery and the admiration of the people of Siwa for the sight of the crocodile in the cemetery. The cemetery abounds with scenes of the Book of the Dead , and other views of the owner of the cemetery, worshiping some deities, and on the side of the entrance are pictures of three gods holding knives for the purpose of protecting the mummy.
- Miso Isis Cemetery
It is one of the ancient tombs in the region and it contains a text describing the god Osiris in the name of the great, revered god in That, and archaeologists believe that “That” is the ancient name of Siwa.
It is a series of adjacent hills. The mountain is located 3 km south of Siwa Oasis, and has two summits called “Nadra and Nazareth”. At the top of Nazareth there is a cave carved in the rock called “Tanachour”, and beneath it there is a trace called “the Sultan’s House” made of clean limestone. The mountain is famous for its hot sand with healing properties, and it contains the red dye used in the manufacture of Siwi pottery. Egyptian and foreign visitors flock to the mountain during the summer to enjoy hot sand baths, which are characterized by their ability to treat rheumatic diseases, joint pain, spine and skin diseases.
Temple of Amun
The Temple of Amun, also called the Temple of Revelation, the Temple of Predictions, or the Temple of Alexander is one of the most important archaeological monuments in the Siwa Oasis, and was established in the Pharaonic era to spread the religion of Amun among the tribes and neighboring peoples due to the location of Siwa as a meeting place for trade routes between south and north of the desert, west and east. The temple is located 4 km east of the city of Siwa, and it is famous for visiting the Macedonian leader Alexander the Great after its conquest of Egypt in 331 BC. The temple witnesses an astronomical phenomenon called vernal equinox, where the sun disk perpendicular to the temple twice a year, on March 20 or 21, which is the date of vernal equinox, and September 22 or 23, which is the date of the autumnal equinox. The phenomenon monitors the only day of the year, where night and day are equal after 90 days From the shortest day of the year, and after another ninety days, it is the longest day of the year .
Umm Ubaida Temple
The Temple of Umm Ubaida is the second temple of Amun in the oasis and is located near the Temple of Revelation, built by the Egyptian pharaoh Nectanabo II or Nokhtabenu II of the Thirtieth Dynasty, and is characterized by a picture of the pharaoh kneeling to the god Amun. The accounts differed about how the temple was destroyed, some of which indicate that an earthquake in 1881 caused the destruction of the temple, while others report that the temple was bombed in 1897 by the commander of Siwa Mahmoud Azmi, who was transferred to Siwa after the Arab revolution because of his sympathy for it.
The city of Shali was established in the year 1203 , and its name means the city in the Siwi language. The city had only one door for the purpose of checking its defenses, and it was called “Anshal” meaning the city gate, and on the northern side of the city wall there is the old mosque, and a second door was opened for the city on the southern side called “Atrat” meaning the new door, and it was used for those who prefer to avoid traffic in front Al-Ajwad are the heads of families, and the location of this door was known only to the people of Siwa, so they used it secretly to get out or enter the state of the city’s siege,
and because the Siwi customs prevent women from leaving except in the narrowest limits and without mixing with men, a third door called “Qaddouh” was opened, and it was Only women are allowed to leave this place when they leave Never. In the construction of city houses, the clayey stone extracted from salt-saturated land was used because when it dries, it becomes similar to the cement in its hardness. In 1820 the forces of Muhammad Ali Pasha conquered Siwa, subjugated it to the authority of the government, and the city enjoyed safety and protection, and in 1826 the Ajwad Council allowed the people to build their homes outside the city walls. In 1926 a large number of the city’s homes collapsed and the rest were cracked as a result of heavy rains. The residents deserted Shali and built new houses on the roof of the mountain.
The tomb of Sidi Slimane
Sidi Suleiman is the Imam of the Siwa, the most famous Oasis figure ever. The people of the oasis tell of Sidi Suleiman that he was a very pious and pious judge, and he states that in the past, he gathered the people of the oasis with the mosque and pleaded with them to God in order to prevent them from attacking the campaign of the raids of the raids on the oasis, the campaign did not reach, and the road went astray and lost in the desert, and it is also said that he ever felt With great thirst, he struck the ground with his stick, and an eye of water exploded. It is said that his mother, before she gave birth to her, liked to eat fish, so he stood in front of her on her window and left a fish for her.
Siwa Heritage Documentation Center
It is a center affiliated with the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Library of Alexandria and supported by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology . The center aims to document all aspects of the Siwi heritage, including customs, traditions, crafts, handicrafts, ancient art, music, poetry and sculpture, natural reserves, irrigation methods and ancient building. The Center cooperates with several parties, including the Siwa City Council, the Community Community Development Association, the Sons of Siwa Association, the Directorate of Antiquities in Siwa, the Italian Development Corporation Cosby, the Bogaz Association in Tangier , Morocco , the European Mediterranean Heritage Program of the European Union .
Siwi House Museum
The museum was established in cooperation with the Canadian government in the Garden of the City Council on an area of three acres, in the style of the traditional Siwi house using mud bricks and palm trunks, and combines its history and development of the Siwi life over different stages of time, and contains many holdings that express the authentic Siwi heritage, And that brought together the efforts of the people of the oasis, such as silver jewelry, musical instruments, wedding costumes, baskets, crockery and farming tools. The museum is not under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture , but it is supervised by the Siwa City Council. Technical committee is supervised by a committee consisting of tribal elders and a number of members of the Siwa people from the university, and the museum spends on itself through the entry fee imposed on visitors.
The architecture in Siwa has a special and distinctive character. Traditional houses are built with a stone archive that consists of salt and fine sand mixed with clay. Doors and windows are made of olive and palm trees. The “child” material is used to glue the stones, after mixing them with sand, and those homes are in harmony with the continental atmosphere of the place, In winter it is warm and in summer it is wet. However, recently the rate of concrete construction in the oasis increased, which led to the decline of traditional construction, due to the need for architectural buildings that require annual maintenance, due to the high water level.
The metallic flute is considered the hero of the Siwi music, and collective singing prevails as the master of the Siwi folk singing, it is a ritual singing associated with seasons and occasions such as marriage, birth and harvest seasons, singing in Siwa is not ritual, but most of the topics of the songs are about alienation, abandonment, love and wisdom .
The art of embroidery by the oasis is of a special nature, and is based on its manufacture by Oasis women, and it features designs of bride’s clothes, daily clothes for women and men, furnishings, carpets and kilims. Green, red, yellow, blue and black are used in embroidery, and the Siwi designs preserve the heritage inherited for thousands of years .
- the kitchen
The Siwi kitchen has its own distinctive features and cuisine. The most famous Siwi dishes are “chard”, “Makhmakh” and “Abu Muqdad”. Siwi tea is called “Zirda Tea”, where it is served in a refrigerator with a number of small cups.
Siwa was chosen as a location to photograph several artworks, including the Kafr Delhab series , Oasis of Sunset, the series One Thousand and One Nights .
Siwa is one of the promising places with its good water potential to reclaim thousands of acres, as it is located on a river full of fresh groundwater. Siwa is famous for growing date palms, olive trees, various fruits and grains such as wheat, barley, and some vegetables, in addition to some fish farms. However, oasis agriculture is facing problems that threaten its survival due to the salinization of the land and the high level of agricultural wastewater.
Siwa abounds with natural water wells of various sizes and depths, which are among the purest water sources in Egypt. Siwa is considered an estuary of the Egyptian Nubian Reservoir, which is the largest underground water reservoir in Egypt, originating from Nubia and Aswan and passing through desert areas and small oases and flowing into Siwa. This natural water reservoir has attracted several domestic and foreign investments in the groundwater sector. It has established natural water bottling plants which are famous for “mineral water”, including the Siwa Water Plant, Hayat Pure Water Factory and Siwa Safety Water. Siwa is spread by seafarers and quarries that produce several different types of salt for domestic use and export. Siwa salt is characterized by international standards and its types differ between rock salt or others that made it suitable for use in European countries for the purposes of melting snow from roads and airports, as it is used in many industries, including soaps, artificial silk, oil refining, yarn, fabric, chlorine, caustic soda, glass, toothpaste, industrial detergents and cooling operations Rocket fuel, gunpowder, refractory bricks, sewage treatment, etc. And due to the excellence of Siwa in its high-quality agricultural production, it has attracted several investments to factories producing and packing dates of all kinds and producing vinegar, molasses, fresh yeast and animal feed, as well as factories for the production and packaging of olive oil. Out of these factories, products that compete in the domestic market and are eligible for export.
Siwa is known for its medical tourism, as it has clean, soft yellow sand suitable for alternative medicine and treatment of rheumatic diseases and arthritis, and the sandy bath is the method used to recover in the time of sacrifice and before sunset. And the oasis has famous archaeological sites such as the Ammonite cemetery, the tombs of the mountain of the dead, the eye of Cleopatra and the remains of the ancient city of Shali. Among the natural places that tourists are keen to visit is the island of Fatnas, which is surrounded by a salt lake on three sides, and is surrounded by a spring of fresh water, and spreads on its land palm and olive trees.
While safari trips using four-wheel drive are among the favorite trips for Oasis visitors, during which they spend a Siwa night in the unique desert nature of the place. And spread in Siwa hotels and resorts from three-star hotels to five-star resorts, which are in harmony with the environmental nature of the oasis, and make sure that the furnishings and furnishings and designs of rooms in full harmony with the Siwi heritage. Some statistics indicate that Siwa receives about 30 thousand tourists annually from Egyptians and foreigners.
The handcrafted pottery is one of the most distinctive traditional crafts in the oasis, on top of which are the tajin flour, desert cooking utensils with a traditional pyramid shape and beautifully decorated. While the Siwi jewelry industry is characterized by sophisticated designs and simple at the same time, and uses in its manufacture various materials of gold, silver, precious stones, leather and threads.
This is the tourist airspace in one of the greatest palaces of Egypt, and follow us to meet in the upcoming tours with tourist tours to get to know the most important monuments and features of ancient Egypt.
With greetings from the Star Shine Tourism team.