Old Dongola is situated at the downstream end of the Great Nile Bend. From the 6th to the 14th century AD, it was the capital of the medieval Nubian Kingdom of Makuria and home to its royal family as well as its secular and religious elite. The remains of the town extend over more than two kilometres along the eastern bank of the Nile, buried under huge sands dunes. Polish archaeologists have worked in Old Dongola for more than fifty years now. They excavated churches – among them the Cathedral, called the Church of the Granite Columns –, palaces, a monastic complex, parts of the gigantic city wall as well as numerous houses and other installations.
A very special building is the Throne Hall, which stands apart from the town and its citadel on a steep rocky outcrop. It was converted into a mosque in 1317, an event which is preserved in its foundation stela, signalling the Islamisation of Makuria and the Middle Nile valley. The building remained in use until 1969, when it was turned in a historic monument.
A later Islamic settlement, called the 'abandoned village', and a large Islamic cemetery with numerous qubbas testify to the importance of Old Dongla also in postmedieval times.