Known as the "Bride of Upper Egypt" (Arous al-Sa'id), MINYA derives considerable charm from its elegant villas built by Italian architects for Greek and Egyptian cotton magnates – now picturesquely decaying amid overgrown gardens – and from its people, known in Egypt for their warmth and honesty. The only sign that it was once embroiled in a struggle between Islamic militants and the security forces are the concrete gun-towers at strategic locations – nowadays mostly unmanned. Tourists may wander about town without an escort, but the police will want to know where you're staying and to accompany you on any excursions to the surrounding sites.
Outside the train station, Midan al-Mahatta is a square redolent of an ex-colonial ville in North Africa. From here Sharia Gumhorriya leads to the palm-shaded Midan Tahrir, whose most elegant villa is the governor's residence. Minya's bazaar stretches southwards along Sharia el-Hussein as far as Midan Sa'a, bustling from mid-morning to midnight, as is the adjacent Sharia Ibn Khasseb, lined with Coptic jewellers and pharmacies. The Corniche is quiet by comparison, with a park affording views of the striated hills of the Eastern Desert across the Nile.
Minya's annual City Festival on March 8 features a military band on the Corniche in commemoration of the fierce local resistance to British rule during the 1919 revolution, while the weekly Al-Habashi Market (Mon) in the south of town has been a fixture since Ottoman times.