Sohag is one the important governorates of Upper Egypt with a capital city that holds the same name. Although the city and the government of Sohag have a long history in ancient Egypt, there is a little number of monuments situated there. Maybe this is why only a few number of tourists spending their vacation in Egypt would pay a visit to Sohag.
With a few number of remarkable historical sites and some magnificent views of the River Nile, maybe the city of Sohag should be added to the touristic tours of travelers visiting Egypt during the coming few years.
The Geographical Location and Surface Area of Sohag
Sohag is relatively situated in Upper Egypt in comparison to other governorates located to the North like El Minya and governorates located to the South like Luxor and Aswan.
The city of Sohag is located 467 kilometers to the South of Cairo, 412 Kilometers to North of Aswan, around 200 kilometers to the North of Luxor, and about 700 kilometers to the South East of the city of Alexandria.
Divided by the River Nile to two sections; one on the West Bank of the Nile and the other on the East Bank, the governorate of Asyut occupies the Northern borders of Sohag, Qena occupies the Southern borders, the Red Sea Government is situated to its East, and the Governorate of the New Valley to its West.
The whole surface area of the governorate of Sohag is around 1500 square kilometers while the inhabited parts are estimated to be around 150 square kilometers. The population of Sohag on the other hand is estimated to be around five million people.
The History and establishment of Sohag
Sohag is considered to be among the most ancient destinations in Egypt as some historians assert that the region was inhabited during the ruling period of the King Menes, the Unifier of Upper and Lower Egypt during the 3rd century BC.
Moreover, the governorate of Sohag was the capital of Egypt during the reign of the 1st and the 2nd dynasties of the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt.
The ruins of the Temple of Seit I in Sohag shows the names of the kings starting from Menes to Seti I who ruled Egypt during the 13th century BC.
Even afterwards, Sohag became even more important during the reign of the 4th dynasty when the important religious institute of Abydos was constructed and it became a major pilgrimage site for the ancient Egyptians.
Abydos is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in Egypt and it was the place where scholars and historians found hundred of sources that made us learn a lot about the political, social, and religious life of ancient Egypt.
With the decline of the Pharaonic age in Egypt, the Greeks started occupying different regions of the old world. The Ptolemies, who originated from the Greeks, occupied Egypt for a period that is around three decades that ended in the year 30 BC when Cleopatra committed suicide and the Romans took control of the country.
The Ptolemies had erected many constructions and establishments in Egypt. Sohag had its share among other cities in the land of the Nile. One of these establishments is the city of Aret constructed by Ptolemy I at the end of the 3rd century BC. This city became the capital of the directorate of Thebes and then a capital of the whole Upper Egypt province afterwards.
The city of Akhmim, a famous town in Sohag today, was even named Panopolis by the Ptolemies and the city was mentioned in the records of the famous historian, Herodotus as one of the most civilized cities of the Ptolemaic period in Egypt.
During the Roman period in Egypt, who ruled over the country for a period that exceeded seven decades, The Christ was born and the Egyptians who converted to Christianity were treating brutally by the Roman emperors.
This fact forced the Egyptian Christians to resort to the desert and isolated areas establishing the first monastic community in the world.
Sohag also had its share with two of the major historical monitories in Egypt, the White Monastery dating back to the 5th century AD, and the Red Monastery dating back to the 7th century AD.
During the Islamic ruling period in Egypt, Sohag was an important province in Egypt and it was called the province of Upper Egypt or the Province of Gerga that is still one of the most important cities of the governorate of Sohag today.
The Islamic monuments in Sohag include the Ateeq Mosque, or the ancient mosque in the Arabic language, that is one of the oldest mosques in Egypt. This is besides the Mosque of Al Aref Bellah, El Amir Mosque, and the El Souq Mosque.
However, it was in 1960 when Sohag was transformed from a directorate to a governorate with the city of Sohag being the capital.
Sohag today is one of the important governorates of Upper Egypt. It contains 12 directorates, 12 cities, 51 major villages, and more than 270 minor villages.
The city of Sohag is the administrational, cultural, and economical capital of the governorate of Sohag. The major cities in Sohag include Gerga, the commercial hub of the governorate and the second largest city and Akhmim.
The Egyptian governorate need to pay more attention to the governorate of Sohag to attract more tourists spending their vacations in Egypt.
The governorate of Sohag hosts a number of interesting monuments like Abydos, a major pilgrimage site in the reign of the Pharaohs, A temple constructed by Ramses II in the 12th century BC. This temple hosts the largest statue of a Pharaonic wife in the ancient Egyptian history that is found until today. This statue of princess Merit Amun, discovered in 1981 is around 12 meters high and it weight more than 31 tons. The temple, that is located in Akhmim, has two large statues of Ramses II, a Roman statue , and some ruins of columns and walls.
Although the governorate of Sohag is far less visited by tourists visiting Egypt, some travelers who really want to taste the Egyptian peasant life and the Egyptian traditions would pay the city a visit during their tour in Egypt.