The Tanta Museum
Due to the historical significance of El Gharbeya Governorate and its fundamental role in Egyptian history throughout different periods of history, Egyptian authorities decided to establish a museum in the city of Tanta, the capital of El Gharbeya in 1913. It is one of the oldest museums of Egypt.
The former town hall of Tanta was chosen to host the displays of the Tanta Museum of Antiquities and the museum was officially opened in 1913. However, the museum was quickly closed and then reopened once again in 1935 and then it was closed for the second time and reopened again on 29th of October 29, 1990.
Many people are wondering why the Tanta Museum has closed once again, although the building of the museum was renewed in the year 2000 and many painting and plumbing works in the museum have been completed, indicating it will reopen again in the future.
The Tanta Museum of Antiquities consists of five large floors. The first four floors are specified for displaying the collection of the museum while the fifth floor hosts the administration offices, a storage room, and a conference hall.
The first floor of the Tanta Museum hosts a large collection of Pharaonic displays, the second floor displays some exhibits dating back to the Greco Roman period, the third floor was specified for the Coptic and Islamic displays, the forth has a large library and a conference hall, and the fifth and last floor has administration offices. Like many other museums and historical sites around Egypt, the Tanta Museum needs some government official to rescue this important structure from neglect so it can once again become an important attraction for Egyptians and foreign visitors.
The History Of Tanta
The name Tanta is an ancient name that was known in Egypt for thousands of years. The Pharaohs called this area Tanaso in the ancient Egyptian history and it was one of the towns of the fifth province of ancient Egypt. In the 4th century B.C., the Greeks called the city “Tanitad”, and then in the Roman period, it was called “Tanthna” and a council of senates was assigned to rule the city. In the Byzantine era, the city was called “Tow” and after the Muslims took over Egypt in 641 A.D., the name of the city changed to become “Tantada.”
During the early Islamic period the importance of the city was diminished and it was transformed from being a whole town to become a suburbia or a village that had a little number of small houses and huts constructed out of brick stones. During the 10th century A.D., the Khedive and the ruler of Egypt at the time, Al Mostanser, who belonged to the Fatimid dynasty, made major changes to the different provinces and boroughs of Egypt. Upper Egypt, at the time, was only divided into large regions, each region consisted of two duchies, and each duchy consisted of states or a number of provinces.
Khedive Al Mostanser eliminated the two regions in Upper Egypt and he made the whole area into one region that consisted of a number of provinces with the “Tantaweya” province among them.
The Fatimid chose the new Tantaweya as a base for them and the province had a ruler who controlled all the security and administration matters. Since that period, Tanta has started capturing the attention of the rulers of Egypt.
When the Ayyubids, the dynasty that was founded by the famous Arabian army leader Saladin El Ayouby ruled over Egypt, Tanta became a large village with a surface area that exceeded 100 acres. The Delta of the river Nile was re-divided in the reign of Al Sultan Al Ashraf in 1375 A.D. to consist of 11 provinces, with a new province that had the name Gharbeya, or the Western province, a name that still officially exist until today with the same capital, El Mahalla El Kobra.
The city of Tantaweya was called “Tant” in the beginning and then Tanta and it followed the ruling system and administration of El Gharbeya Province.
Tanta at the beginning of the 15th century had an official employee who was assigned by the Sultan that used to supervise everything in the town like public morals, religion, education, commercial activities, and he used to try to improve the living conditions of the people living in town.
Unfortunately, the living conditions of Tanta worsened again during the period of the Ottomans in Egypt and the cultivated lands of the town became less and so was the population of Tanta which decreased due to the harsh living conditions.
During the French occupation of Egypt in 1789, the administrative borders of some of the provinces of the Delta were modified as some provinces were canceled and others were joined together like Tanta that was added to El Menofeya Governorate.
When Mohamed Ali, the founder of modern Egypt, came to rule over the country in the beginning of the 19th century, he had another administration modification and the Nile Delta had 6 provinces and Tanta became a part of Al Gharbeya Governorate once again
Afterward, in 1836, Abbas Touson Pasha, the grandson of Mohamed Ali, became the first governor of El Gharbeya and since that date, the city and the governorate have tremendously thrived.
The importance of Tanta increased when the first railway to be ever established in Egypt in 1854 passed through the town coming from Cairo and going to Alexandria. Moreover, telegraph and telephone wires reached Tanta in the reign of Khedive Mohamed Tawfik in 1888 to add more and more facilities to the inhabitants of Tanta and Al Gharbeya.
When Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, became the ruler of Egypt, all the provinces and directorates were canceled and replaced by governorates. However, Tanta remained the capital of Al Gharbeya Governorate until today. Tanta was famous in the old days of the great gates of the city that used to close at night to protect the inhabitants of the city against any outer attacks and the gates of Tanta were like the famous gates of Cairo that remained until today.
About Tanta Today
Tanta is the capital of the Governorate of Gharbeya and it is situated 92 kilometers north of Cairo. Tanta is located in the middle of the Nile Delta and this was why the Arabs named it “Tantda” in the beginning of the Islamic ruling in Egypt. Tanta is considered to be the most civilized and urbanized city after Cairo, the capital, Alexandria, the second capital of Egypt and the jewel of the Mediterranean Sea as many people prefer to call it. Moreover, Tanta is considered to be the third largest city in the Nile Delta according to the size of the surface area of the city, after Al Mansoura and El Mahla El Kobra.
The Mosque of Al Sayed El Badawy
The most important monument and the major landmark of the city of Tanta is the famous mosque of Al Sayed El Badawy. He was a relative to El Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohamed and was buried in Egypt.
Al Sayed El Badawy was born in the beginning of the 13th century from an Alaouite family in Morocco in the reign of El Mowahed king, El Nasser Mohamed.
After having the finest education, Al Sayed El Badawy left Egypt and went to live in Mecca with his father and after 20 years, his father passed away in Mecca in 1230 AD. Al Sayed came back to Egypt in 1240 A.D. and he lived in Tanta where he spent the rest of his life teaching Islam and Islamic thoughts to the people of Tanta and the whole Nile Delta in Egypt.
The Mosque of Al Sayed El Badawy was founded in the beginning as a small prayer area that was situated near the tomb of Al Sayed El Badawy in Tanta that was founded by Sultan Seif El Dine Qaitbey in 1483. However, the mosque that we view today was actually constructed by Ali Bek El Kebir in 1769 and the mosque is featured with its marvelous design, and it’s three domes that overlook the three mausoleums located in the mosque. The Mosque of Al Sayed El Badawy was renewed twice during the reign of Abbas I, the Khedive of Egypt, the first was in 1836 while the second time was in 1848.
Many rulers of Egypt took care of the restoration and renewal works of the museum including Khedive Ismail, Khedive Abbas Helmi II, King Fouad, and then the presidents of Egypt after the revolution of 1952. Al Sayed El Badawy mosque has a great festival to celebrate his birthday that is held all over the city of Tanta once every year with many people from all over Egypt coming to attend this wonderful Islamic celebration.