It may not look like much from afar, but this necropolis is one of the earliest surviving and best-preserved Christian cemeteries in the world. About 1km north of the Temple of Hibis, it’s built on the site of an earlier Egyptian necropolis, with most of the 263 mud-brick chapel-tombs appearing to date from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD.
Some have interiors decorated with vivid murals of biblical scenes and boast ornate facades. The Chapel of Peace has figures of the Apostles on the squinches of the domes, just visible through Greek graffiti. The Chapel of the Exodus, one of the oldest tombs, has the best-preserved paintings, including the Old Testament story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, which is visible through some 9th-century graffiti. Another large family tomb (No 25) has a mural of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and the smaller Chapel of the Grapes (Anaeed Al Ainab) is named after the images of grapevines that cover the walls.
The site guardian will guide you around the site and unlock the doors to the decorated tombs; he’ll expect a tip of about LE5.