Abu Mena (1979)
Egypt

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United Nations (Vienna) 2005. Abu Mena.

The church, baptistry, basilicas, public buildings, streets, monasteries, houses and workshops in this early Christian holy city were built over the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 296. In 2001 the site was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 
  • United Nations (Vienna) 2005. Abu Mena. 

Threats to the Site:
A land-reclamation programme for the agricultural development of the region, funded by the World Bank, has caused in the past ten years a dramatic raise of the water table. The local soil, which is exclusively clay, is hard and capable of supporting buildings when in a dry state, but becomes semi-liquid with excess water. 

The destruction of numerous cisterns, disseminated around the city, has entailed the collapse of several overlying structures. Huge underground cavities have opened in the north-western region of the town. The risk of collapse is so high that the authorities were forced to fill with sand the bases of some of the most endangered buildings, including the crypt of Abu Mena with the tomb of the Saint, and close them to the public. A large banked road, moreover, was executed to enable movement within the site. The Supreme Council of Antiquities is trying to counteract this phenomenon by digging trenches, and has enlarged the listed area in the hope of lowering the pressure of the irrigation. These measures, however, have proved to be insufficient, taking into account the scale of the problem and the limited resources available. 

United Nations (Vienna) 2005. Abu Mena. First day cover cancelled in Vienna on 4th August 2005.

The old monastery and city of Abu Mena are located south of Alexandria, between Wadi el-Natrun and Alexandria. St. Nena's remains were brought here by a camel and were buried where the animal refused to walk any more. A water well in the desert came up from that spot. These water wells made the area full of vines and olive trees. It was an oasis called St. Menas Vineyards. Today, only ruins and the desert are the witness of once a beautiful oasis and pilgrimage site.

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in the Egypt (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Egypt section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
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