The City of Love which Lost in Time – The Antinopolis

Al-Sheikh Ibada is the name of the modern village which witnessed a magnificent love story of Emperor Hadrian and Antinous in 130 AD

Al-Sheikh Ibada is the name of the modern village. As it is today, it is located about 6 miles north of Mallavi on the east bank of the Nile River. This village was created in the memory of an Arab Sheikh, who died here after conversion of Christianity, the village was called Sheikh Ibada, “the Sheikh pious”. But when we try to explore the history of this village, we get to see a magnificent love story of the Egyptian emperor Hadrian and his beloved lover Antinous who drowned into the Nile river”


Antinous was born on November 27 between 110 AD and 112 AD in Claudiopolis, Bithynia (Now modern Bolu, Bolu Province). Emperor Hadrian found him on one of his frequent journeys through Asia Minor (Today’s Turkey) (between 121 AD and 127 AD) and took the young boy with him. Antinous became the friend and constant companion of Hadrian. As always, Antinous was also on the journey through Egypt, where he drowned in river Nile

After Antinous Death

In 130 AD, on the first day of month Hathor (November 10 and December 9 of the Gregorian calendar), Hadrian received news about the Antonous while he was on the visit of Toman province of Egypt. The day when Antinous drowned, it was a death day of Osiris.

Hadrian fell in deep mourning and made Antinous to worship God. Hadrian immediately decided to make his sanctuary into a place of pilgrimage for all Egypt. Hadrian led his architects along the stony hills, explaining his plan for the construction of an outer wall which was more than seven KM long.

In his honor, the Antinoea festival was given and launched the Antinous cult, even a star was named after Antinous. This city remained flourished until the advent of Christian civilization. This city remained the administrative center of the Middle East until its destruction by Arabs in 619 AD. At the tomb of Antinous Hadrian had a large Egyptian obelisk built, on which at least a part of Antinous’ life story with hyroglyphs was carved.


The best visual impression of the classical architecture of these cities is provided by the archeological remains of Antinopolis which were recorded by Napoleonic excavation in 1799-1800. At that time a similar range of buildings survived there to those which also survived in Alexandria at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was ornamented with a main colonnaded street and cross street, tetrastyla, porticoes, and arches.


Napolean Team

The “savants”, accompanying Napoleon during his 1798 campaign, in their “Description de l’Egypte”, tell us about Roman ruins still visible on the spot: an arch of triumph, roads with double colonnade, a theatre, some temples, a hippodrome, baths, and a circus.

French Man Albert Gayet

But by the time archeologist Albert Gayet undertook the investigation of the site a century later, there was nothing left. All the stones had been used in the making of Sugar factories of fertilizing the fields. He mentioned in his notebook that a vast parallelogram can be discerned beneath the accumulation of sand stopped by the city walls.

Italian Excavation Team

In 2003 group of Italian archaeologist resumed rigorous research at this site. In 2012 by the help of modern ground-penetrating radar and the magnetometry researchers discovered of a long-buried ancient wharf. Currently, excavation work is stopped at this side due to politics and expansion of the village and the fields.


Antinous lover and god

The Architecture of Alexandria and EgyptOsiris

Atlas of Lost Cities: A Travel Guide to Abandoned and Forsaken Destinations


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