Abu Mena Area is located on the northern edge of Western Desert and is accessed through a road branching from the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, and about 50 km southwest of Alexandria. The Area was in the past a small village that encompassed the burying place of Saint Menas since the late Roman Era. It remained until the early Middle Ages the most important Christian Center for Pilgrimage in Egypt.
This site was discovered in 1905 by the German archaeologist K. M. Kaufmann who succeeded in 1907 in revealing great parts of the site and during the succeeding ten years few attempts to excavate the site has been taking place.
In 1959 the Late Pope Cyril VI (Abba Kyrillos VI) constructed a monastery near the old village. In 1979 the UNESCO Committee in its meeting held from 22 to 27 October in Luxor decided to put this site on the World Heritage List therefore it has become one of the Most important historical sites in Egypt.
As usual, this site was as fortunate as any other pilgrimage center, it was transformed from a small humble village into an extraordinary flourish thanks to its Saint's power of attraction. The site has become able to host thousands of pilgrims in the Saint's day (November 11th and because the Coptic Church is still following the Julian calendar, the date now is November 24th). These pilgrims came from countries as far away as Germania and France. In these countriespilgrims' flasks were found and they were called "Saint Menas Flasks" and were taken as a souvenir of their visit. Many of the site's visitors went to Abu Mena to baptize their children or themselves there, but in times other than the Saint's Day there were fewer visitors.