History of Al Matariyah

Al-Matariyya, with the nearby Ain Shams district, had a notable history during Egypt's Pharaonic period as a part of ancient Heliopolis. The district has archaeological sites of the period, some only recently discovered, beneath its current structures.   In ancient Roman times Heliopolis belonged to the Augustamnica province. Legend tells of the Christian Holy Family sheltering under a tree in Heliopolis, presently known as 'the tree of the Virgin Mary'  , now with the Chapel of the Virgin in Al-Matariyyah. 

The French naturalist Pierre Belon du Mans mentions visiting Al-Matariyyah in his 1547 journey to Egypt.   Al-Mataryiah once had the villas of prominent people. The famous Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawqi lived in a villa he named ‘Karmet Ibn Hani’ or Ibn Hani’s Vineyard here, near the palace of the Khedive Abbas II at Saray El-Qobba, until his exile from Egypt at World War I.

 Historic elements

The Al-Masalla area of the district contains the ancient Masalla Obelisk, or El-Misalla, one of the Pharaonic era obelisks that still remain in Egypt.   It is the only surviving element of Heliopolis standing in its original position, and of the great Temple of Re—Atum constructed by Pharaoh Senusret I (1971 BCE—1926 BCE) of the Twelfth Dynasty.   The 68 ft (20.73 m) tall red granite obelisk weighs 120 tons—240,000 pounds (110,000 kg).

A pink granite megalithic colossus statue, with features resembling those of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, was found in Al-Matariyyah in 2006, weighing five tons—11,023 pounds (5,000 kg). It was at the ruins of a sun temple dating back to the reign of Ramses II (reigned 1279 BCE—1213 BCE), at the site of later Souk El-Khamis.

The underground tombs of High Priests of Re of the Sixth Dynasty (2345 BCE—2181 BCE) were found in the southeast corner of the Re-Atum Temple archaeological site in Al-Matariyyah.   The Necropolis of