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El Matareya or Al-Matariyya also known as Mataria or Matariyyah is a region located in the Dakahila Governorate of Egypt. The district lies in the northern part of Greater Cairo to the east of the river Nile and just adjacent to Lake Manzala in the northeastern part of Egypt. Mataria in Cairo is an altogether different region, although the name similarity can confuse people. El Matariya has a small population of just 300,000 inhabitants and is made up of two major districts, which are El-Obeyeen and Al-Ghasna. In the 1930s, the district was named as a distinct city with a number of villages in it. It’s believed that Al-Matariyya was once a part of Heliopolis which is among the oldest known cities that existed in ancient Egypt. Other districts that were a part of Helliplois in addition to this were Tell el-Hisn, Kafr el-Gamus, Qurn Kafr el-Marg, Ezbet Arab el-Tawil and El-Khusus.
The name of El-Matareya is believed to have come from the Latin word ‘mater’ which means ‘mother’ and is so named because of the existence of the Tree of the Virgin Mary in this region. Al Matariyya with Ayn Shams, the neighboring district, played an important part in history during the Pharaonic period of Egypt, which was a part of ancient Heliopolis. El-Matareya still has many archeological sites dating back to that era, some of which have only been discovered recently. In Roman times, Heliopolis belonged to Augustamnica province and as per a Christian legend, the Holy Family took refuge under a tree in Heliopolis which is now known by the name of the tree of the Virgin Mary and still stands at the chapel in El-Matareya.
Another popular destination is the home of Pierre Belon du Mans, the French Naturalist’s stay at El-Matareya when he was visiting Egypt in 1547. The district once was a home to many exquisite and wealthy villas. Ahmed Shaqwi, the famous Egyptian poet also resided at a beautiful villa in El-Matareya named Karmet Ibn Hani, until he was exiled from the country during the First World War.
Ancient obelisks are situated here, one of which dates back to the Pharaonic era and still stands in its original position. This obelisk is the only one remaining from Heliopolis and was once a part of the great temple of Ra-atum which was made by Pharaoh Sesostis in the 12th dynasty. The obelisk is made from red granite, weighs 120 ton and is 22 meters high. Another example is a colossal statue made from pink granite, like those from the Pharaoh Ramses II, weighing 5 tons that was found in El-Matareya in 2006. The statue was placed at the ruins of a temple which existed during the reign of the son of Ramses II.
Another historical structure found in El-Matareya is the underground tombs from 6th dynasty which are of the High Priests of Ra. They were found in the Temple of Ra Atum at the southeastern corner.
Additionally, the Necropolis of Heliopolis is only about 5 km from El-Matareya and belongs to the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. In 2004, a tomb was found with a dome which was made by a Priest of 26th Dynasty. Inside there were many funerary statuettes named as hieroglyphs and Ushabti from the 7th century BC.
In the western part of El-Matareya there is an industrial region along the canal Musturud Ismā'īliyya. This area has many oil companies like Misr Petrol, Shell and General Association of Oil. Also, there are various food industries in the region which are popular brands in Egypt.
El A'safra, Al Dheheir and Awlad Sobour are popular destinations, and other places include Al Matariyah, Mataria, Kafr Farouqi and `Arab Abu Tawila. The major cities close to this district are Cairo, Gizeh, Tanta and El Mahalla el Kubra.
Some popular mosques that are located in and near El-Matareya are the Great Mosque of Azzam, El Fath Mosque and The Mosque of the Graveyard.
Some famous families of Egypt which share a history with the town of El Matareya include El Rayes, Azzam, El Shennawy, Al Nagdy, Farrag, El Gendy Dorra, and many others.
El-Matareya is famous as a place of pilgrimage in Egypt dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. The district is now visited by a large number of tourists coming to Egypt. There are many popular hotels in El-Matareya and it is easy to find ideal accommodation easily which can make the trip even better.
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