City of Manzala, Egypt
The El Manzala region lies in the Dakhalia governorate and has been named after Lake Manzala. The Manzala town has bumpy and narrow streets and no buildings to boast of. Earlier, abundance of fishes in the Lake Manzala prompted many to barricade waters and create fish farms without paying a penny, this led to corruption and robbing in the town.
Lake Manzala lies near Port Said and is in northeastern Egypt. This Lake on the Nile delta is also known as Manzaleh. Lake Manzala is the biggest deltaic Lakes in northern Egypt. The Lake is 30 km wide and 47 km long. Though Manzala Lake is quite long but it is quite shallow with just 4 or 5 feet deep water in most places. The city of Port Said which is on Lake Manzala was established in the 19th century to help in construction of the Canal and also in travelling.
Suez Canal and Lake Manzala
Suez Canal is intersected by three Lakes- the Great Bitter Lake, Lake Tismah and Lake Manzala. The construction of the Canal reached Manzala first proceeding from north to south. As the Lake is very shallow, it became very necessary to built something to help the ships to pass through, for which a banked channel was dug.
The Manzala Lake is connected to the Suez Canal through a small Canal known as Al-Qabouti. The Lake has undergone many biological, chemical and physical changes in the past century. A number of human impacts like human settlements, silting of the Lake, pollution, construction of high dam and drying process have changed the Lake from being a marine system to a fresh water system.
The ecology of the place
The Lake Manzala is a brackish lagoon. The bed of the Lake is largely made up of soft clay. Earlier the Lake served as a very significant source of fishes but the increase in pollution levels and drainage of the Lake has decreased this number considerably. The government of Egypt drained large portions of the Lake and tried to convert it into farmland to get the best of the rich Nile deposits. The project was unprofitable and Lake Manzala had lost about 80 percent area by the year 2001. Scientists have discovered the ash grains of a volcano called Santorini in Greece lying on banks of Lake Manzala. The volcano had erupted 3500 years ago with a massive fury.
There are a number of cities that lies on Lake Manzala. Ancient island city like Tanis and early city like Tahpanhes lie on the Lake. Port Said is an important city and is visited by many tourists.
This island is in Lake Manzala and lies 9km of Port Said city in southwest direction. The place is now called San-al-Hagar town but it was given the name Tanis by the Greek refugees. The island is under Port Said governorate. Agricultural products and particularly textiles were exported through this important port throughout the Middle East. The place was very fertile and was also famous for its fortresses and treasures.
Tahphanes is an ancient city on Lake Manzala. The city was known as Daphnae by the Greek. This ancient city is mentioned in holy bible and many Jews settled here in sixth century BC.
Said Pasha established Port Said in 1859 to serve as a working camp for workers involved in constructing the Suez Canal. A major part of the city was built on Lake Manzala. But the city suffered major damages during the Suez crisis and then again during Israel crisis in 1967 and 1973 wars. The city has been rebuilt and now serves as a summer resort for the Egyptians. The town centre has buildings of the colonial architecture of the nineteenth century. National museum in Port Said has artifacts from almost all periods of Egypt’s past- prehistoric and pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic as well as many coins, manuscripts and textiles. Port Said is a very important link between the sea route connecting east and west. Many tankers and ships line up there and the sight is the main attraction for the tourists. A final word Lake Manzala is a very important Lake in Egypt and has been mentioned in almost all books and articles on Egypt which revolve around Suez Canal. The cities and islands on this Lake make it even more important in the history of the region.