The City of Ismailia
The city of Ismailia is one of the most beautiful Egyptian destinations that are situated on the Suez Canal and it is the capital of a governorate that holds the same name.
Ismailia was built on the West Bank of the Temsah Lake and it is located on the pathway of the Suez Canal. The city is situated almost in the middle between the city of Portsaid in the North and the city of Suez in the South, 120 kilometers to the East of Cairo, the Egyptian capital.
With more than 700,000 inhabitants, the city has developed largely in the past few decades with the building of the tunnel of Gamal Abdel El Nasser, the construction of the Cairo – Ismailia high way, and with many hotels and resorts being established lately in Ismailia
Ismailia is considered to be among the most charming cities in Egypt with a large number of gardens, its clean well organized streets and neighborhoods, and its distinguished European style that made it a wonderful destination for one day trips from Cairo or even for a lunch break for tourists traveling to Sinai.
The History of Ismailia
Ismailia is among the most recent established cities in Egypt, in comparison to other cities with long history like Cairo and Alexandria being constructed hundreds of years ago.
The city of Ismailia was established with the opening of the Suez Canal in the 16th of November 1869 in the reign of the Khedive Ismail, the fonder of the Suez Canal, and the word "Ismailia" was actually derived from his name.
The city was established and developed to house the European engineers and laborers who worked in operating the Suez Canal when it was first created and this is why some of the neighborhoods of Ismailia still have the European atmosphere with the French style of the architecture of villas and houses.
The Inhabitants of Ismailia
The social composition of the inhabitants of Ismailia or the city's demography consists mainly of a mixture of three migration waves that traveled to the city at the same time of the opening of the Suez Canal and the rising of a new city situated on the Temsah Lake to the East of Cairo.
The first group of people who traveled to Ismailia and settled in the city was workers and laborers from Upper Egypt who participated in the digging of the Suez Canal.
After the opening of the Canal they had two choices; either to remain in the city that offered a lot of working opportunities at the time or to return to their homeland in the South of Egypt and of course almost all of them remained in Ismailia.
The second wave of immigrants to Ismailia came from other cities that were established during the digging of the Suez Canal like Portsaid and the city of Suez as they found better work and a higher standard of living that encouraged them to reside in Ismailia.
The last group who left their homelands and traveled to Ismailia came from Europe and consisted of the engineers and higher ranked employees who worked in the daily operation of the Suez Canal.
However, after the nationalization of the canal in 1956 by the former Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the beginning of the battles between the Egyptian army and the Israeli troops in Sinai, most of the Europeans who lived in the city of Ismailia for many years left the city for good and went back to Europe.
Touristic Attractions in Ismailia
The touristic components of Ismailia can be summarized in its wonderful green orchards and gardens, the beautiful Temsah Lake that hosts some of the fine beaches, the Suez Canal, some historical sites and museums, and the most delicious fried and grilled fish.
These components contributed all together, during the past few years, to increase the number of tourists who visited Ismailia for leisure and to have a short vacation away from other crowded cities in Egypt like Cairo or Alexandria.
Moreover, many local and multinational companies and organizations arrange for conferences in Ismailia as it is located near Cairo and it provides the participants with a calm atmosphere that would help them focus during the meetings or workshops and then have an enjoyable time afterwards.
The Historical Sites of Ismailia
Although the modern city of Ismailia was only established in 1869 by Khedive Ismail, a number of historical discoveries were found inside the city and all around it dating back to the Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic, and Islamic periods.
When the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt started the excavation missions in Ismailia, they were able to unearth some fossils of several tombs that date back to the pre dynastic era in the Egyptian history, more than 5000 years in the past.
Some other excavation missions that worked in an area called Tal El Kou' found a number of houses and tombs, made out of bricks that date back to the Second Intermediate period, between the middle of the 17th century and the middle of the 16th century, during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt.
Due to the large number of houses and tombs that were discovered in that area, the scientists are now working on discovering the exact location of "Oris" the capital and the headquarter of the Hyksos in Egypt.
Was this great historical city located on the East bank of Ismailia in Sinai, the North of Sinai on the way the Hyksos used to travel to Egypt, or in that same location of the tombs discovered in Tal El Kou'?
These scientific discoveries proved that Ismailia was known by the ancient Egyptians in the pre dynastic period and in the beginning of the dynastic period in Egypt in 3100 BC.
Due to the historical importance of Ismailia a number of foreign universities have started studying the city and directing excavation missions to discover the historical sites located in and around Ismailia.
Among the most important excavation missions that worked in Ismailia is that of the University of London that was able to unearth a lot of fossils and antiquities that belonged to the forts that were constructed by the Pharaohs to protect the Eastern borders of Egypt and to restore some of the already unearthed historical sites.
The De Lesseps Museum
This Museum was the residence of Ferdinand De Lesseps, the engineer who executed the construction of the Suez Canal in 1859 by orders from the Khedive Ismail
The Museum of De Lesseps houses some of his tools, belongings, engineering plans, some rare historical maps of the Suez Canal, and a wonderful canvas with the two letters; S.C, or the Suez Canal that was given to him during the celebration of the opening of the Suez Canal.
Among the most wonderful displays of the De Lesseps Museum in Ismailia is a copy of the original invitations that were sent to the kings and presidents of the world to attend the grand opening of the Suez Canal on the 17th of November 1869. There is also a wonderful horse carriage that De Lesseps used during his supervision visits to the location of the Suez Canal.
The House itself is definitely fascinating with its European style of architecture, decorated ceilings, and its wonderful wall paper that was imported from France and was he first to be ever used in Egypt.
The Horus Military Rout
Stretching from the East of the Suez Canal in the West till the city of Rafah in the East, on the Egyptian Israeli borders nowadays, the Horus Military Rout was used during the Pharaonic period for military campaigns carried out by the kings and rulers of Egypt towards Syria and Palestine.
This rout was studied by many excavation missions from several countries like the United States, Belgium, France, and Canada with the participation of archeologists from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and many items were discovered dating from different periods of the Egyptian history.
The Temsah Lake
The Temsah Lake is one of the most beautiful natural lakes in Egypt with its charming atmosphere and the purity of its waters that would be amazing to swim in or even to relax on the beaches situated all around the lake.
The Temsah Lake has a surface area of around 14 square kilometers, which is relatively a large space that encouraged many touristic resorts, beaches, cafes, and restaurants to operate on the shores of the lake.
The Fairouz Beach and Chalets
The Fairouz Beach is one of the most wonderful resorts in Ismailia which is designed in the shape of a ship with a great restaurant that offers all sorts of local and international dishes.
Featured with 30 spacious chalets, football and tennis courts, a spa and a health club, a swimming pool, a kids' playground, and a large amusement park, the Fairouz Beach has been attracting more and more tourists during the last few years.