Bookmark and Share

Ancient Egypt
1. Introduction
2. People
3. Life styles
4. Culture
5. Education and Science
6. Society
7. Economy
8. Government
9. Cities and Villages
10. Language
11. Religion
12. Kings / periods
13. History
14. Map

Open the online Arabic language course

Open map of Ancient EgyptAncient Egypt / Cities and Villages /


The remaining obelisk of Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

The remaining obelisk of Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt. Photo: miriam.mollerus.

Important city in Ancient Egypt, situated right at the apex of the Nile Delta, 8 km east of the river, and about 10 km north of modern Cairo.
Heliopolis is the Greek name of the city, but several other names were used in different texts: Egyptian theology called it Per-Re ("City of Re," which is the name modeled from the Greek name literally translated, "City of the Sun"), and in the Bible it is called On.
Heliopolis was the centre of sun worship in Egypt. At first it was the god Tem that was revered here, but he was later considered as a form of Re. The temple of Heliopolis was for centuries during the New Kingdom (1570-1085 BCE) among the most important cult centres of Egypt. The temple was second in size only to the Amon temple in Thebes. At its height, the temple employed 13,000 priests and slaves.
Heliopolis was also the main centre in Egypt for the writing of religious literature.
Today there is little left of the city, the obelisk (see illustration) of Sesostris 1 being the only remaining monument. One other obelisk now stand on the Thames embankment in London, United Kingdom, and another in Central Park, New York, USA.

2900 BCE: First historical traces of Heliopolis.
Around 2400: Heliopolis rises to great fame, after the priests at the temple of Re succeeds in making the cult of Re the state religion.
1500: Heliopolis reaches its historical height, when Re (later changed into Amon-Re) started to be revered as the chief god in the Egyptian pantheon.
Around 1300: During the reign of Ramses 2, the temple of Heliopolis reaches its maximum size.
From around 1000: Slow decline for Heliopolis starts.
From 332: After the founding of Alexandria in 332, Heliopolis is forgotten by the rulers of Egypt.
From 30: With the Roman invasion of Egypt, most of the obelisks of Heliopolis are removed. The walls of the city are used for the construction of other cities.

Confused? Try to find a good place to start learning about Ancient Egypt in
Where to begin?Detailed article

By Tore Kjeilen