The archaeological site of Abu Mina features a number of structures, many of which are religious in nature. The most prominent of these is the tomb of the eponymous St. Menas (AD 285–309), whose fame during the late Roman Period made the site a popular destination for pilgrims seeking blessings.
Over time, structures were built around the tomb, such as the Baptistery, several churches, baths, houses, wine presses and workshops, in addition to pilgrim quarters and a large square bordered by porticoes with marble columns. The so-called ‘Pilgrims’ Court’ was a gathering point for pilgrims to the tomb.
The ancient city and the saint’s tomb were eventually forgotten until they were discovered by the German archaeologist C.M. Kaufmann in the early 20th century. Subsequent archaeological work by missions from the Coptic Museum and Graeco-Roman Museum unearthed remains of the residential quarters of the city. Because of its religious and historical value, the archaeological site of Abu Mina was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.