Welcome to Siwa Oasis the oasis of history


Sites of Siwa Area


Tourists say

“The people of Siwa are extraordinary, retaining customs and traditions from centuries past, as well as their own language, Siwi, a Berber dialect with Algerian roots...”




The Village dates back to the year 600H.-1203 A.D. Al- Idreesy mentioned it in his book “Nozhat al-Moshtaq” in 1154 A.D, and so did Ibn Doqmaq in his book “al-Intesaar” in 1391-1388 as “Santareyya”. “Shaly” in the Siwa language means city and the reason behind its construction was to create a shelter for the oasis and to protect it from the attacks of the Bedwins; the Barbar and the Westerners. It was constructed by 40 persons who were the remains of the oasis population. The village was dumped in 1826 after Mohammed Ali’s conquest and when security prevailed the ancient village gradually moved and another village was built outside the older one. In 1826 heavy rain destroyed the village houses that were built with kershef and that lead to abandon the old village. Pharaonic and Roman tombs were found in the plateau and they were discovered by Ahmed Fakhry in 1937.


shaliArchaeological data

Description of archaeological content

The village is a prototype for the traditional desert architecture in the Western Desert, an architecture that resembles in its characteristics the city of Balat in Dakhla and the architecture of al-Kasaba in Morocco. The village now is remains of Kershef buildings. The best part of the village is its western part which is still inhabited. The village combines remains of houses, shops, six wells and a sitting room where families were gathered in during funerals, weddings and in solving their disputes. The sitting room is a square area with benches and palm-trunks ceilings. Many narrow passages run through the village.
The eastern part includes the village remains and it is clear through the houses remains that they consisted of five or six stores. The ground flour usually consists of a reception hall, a store room, a room, a bath, an oven and a place for the cattle. The first floor however consists of a Durqaa, rooms and a bath while the upper flours consist of rooms, bath and a kitchen.
Houses were constructed over the plateau’s amphitheatre and that is why they are not built with a well organized plan. From the top it looks like a honeycomb. The palm trunks were used as beams to fortify the buildings. The village buildings are surrounded by a defense enclosure wall. At first, the city had one door at the north side; its name was “Inshal Door”. After a century later, another door “Athrat” was opened at the southern side and it was used in the secret enter and exit when the village was under siege. A third door “Kaddouha” was opened and it was used by women only. The village was penetrated by narrow passages and paths for protection.

Like any other Islamic city, a mosque was established for practicing the religious rituals and to be the main foundation in the city’s plan. The Ancient mosque had another role besides its religious one; its minaret was used as surveillance tower.
The village contains the “Tatandy” mosque and it is called “Sheikha Hossneyya Mosque” who donated a sum of money for its construction and it dates to the period when the village itself was established. The mosque is simple in its plan; it consists of a half circled socket with no ornaments. The minaret is built to the north of the mosque over a rectangular base topped by a conical shaft. The interesting thing is that restoration works tat are taking place in the time being are performed by the local people with the same old traditional way and under the supervision of the SCA.


NecropolisThe Ancient Necropolis

It lies in the western part of the village and surrounded by dwellings from three parts. The cemetery is bordered by Shali Plateau in its eastern part. The cemetery contains two mausoleums in the shape of a squared room built with kershef in addition to some burials, some of them topped by limestone cenotaphs to the east of the cemetery. The burials take the shape of a rectangular hole topped by a vaulted ceiling from palm trunks, at the level of the ground. There are lots of burials and the old inhabitants mentioned that the village’s attack of the plague lead to the death of plenty of people in the village who were buried in this cemetery.


ShaliThreat Data

Threats to the site
The village needs a regular follow up in order to save the remains of the buildings, the wooden beams that fortify the walls of the buildings are being removed leaving them at risk of collapsing. The drainage water leaking from the reuse of the old houses by the modern investors endangers the foundations.



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1973. The Oases of Egypt. Volume I. Siwa Oasis. Cairo: AUC Press.

Vivian, C.
2000. The Western Desert of Egypt. An Explorer’s Handbook. Cairo: AUC Press.

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