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Zagazig is a large city along the eastern section of the Nile Delta in Egypt. Zagazig is the capital of Sharkeya Governorate in the eastern section of the Delta and overlooks the Nile, Mois and Ismailia Lakes, and the Muiz Canal.The city is located 85 kilometers northeast of Cairo, the capital of Egypt.
Te population of the city was estimated to be more than one million and a half inhabitants in a census carried out by the Egyptian government in 2010. Zagazig remains as one of the largest and most important cities of the Nile Delta, together with Mansoura, Tanta, and El Mahala.
Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, founded Zagazig in the 19th century because he wanted to dig canals for irrigation in the eastern section of the Nile Delta in order to cultivate more land and enrich the whole delta region.
The city of Zagazig became the largest and most important city in the eastern Delta region in 1883 taking the position from the city of Belbeis.
All the governmental bodies and institutes were transferred step by step from Belbeis to Zagazig and employees worked in temporary offices before the first governmental institute was established in Zagazig in 1836.
Within a few years the lands of the city started expanding and this whole new administration hub became bigger and bigger. Tradesmen, various craftsmen, and manufacturers started residing in the new city and establishing their new businesses there.
At the end of the 19th century a railways station was built in Zagazig and trains used to travel on a regular schedule from Zagazig to Cairo in the north and Mansoura and Suez to the west. In 1980, the Egyptian government issued a decree to declare that Zagazig has officially become the administrative capital of the governorate of Sharkeya
The city of Zagazig is divided into two major sections: Hay Awal or the First Neighbourhood and Hay Thany, or the Second Neighborhood. The city also has a large number of districts. The most important public squares of the city of Zagazig are Tala’ebHarb Square in the center of the city and Kawmeya Square, El Sagha Square, El Montazah Square, Sphinx Square, and El Tahrir Square.
The most famous streets in the city of Zagazig include Governorate Street, or Abdel Aziz Ali Street, El Amn El Gheza’ie Street, Kawmeya Street, Tobla Ouweida Street, Saad Zaghloul Street, Gala’a Street, and Tal’aet Harb Street. Zagazig has three main bridges called El Sagha Bridge or the New Bridge as the inhabitants of the city prefers to call it, El Zera’a Street Bridge, and Kafer Abdel Aziz Street Bridge.
Egyptian historians have always debated the real origin of the name Zagazig. There are three popular theories but none has been proven true.
The first asserts that the name refers to the family of Ahmed El Zagazoogy who established the city of Zagazig before Mohamed Ali. The name of the city of Zagazig was mentioned in the description of Egypt drafted by the French soldiers during the occupation of Egypt at the beginning of the 19th century but it was named Kafer Zegzy.
The second theory claims that the name Zagazig originated when Mohamed Ali ordered his men to build Nile barrages in the position of the dam that was constructed to store the water of the Mois Sea to provide the required water to aggregate the lands of the Sharkeya governorate. When the builders and workers came to the city to build the new barrage, they lived in small huts made out of the mud on both sides of the sea. Different vendors and other people followed the workers of the barrage and stayed in this new location. Many fishermen came to live in this new place as well and they started to catch a new distinctive type of fish that was only found in this area and it was called the Zegazeegy fish.
The third and last theory about the name El Zagazig states that the city was called after the Zagzougy family, a family who came from the Arabian Peninsula and stayed in Northern Kafer Zagazig at the beginning of the 19th Century. Some historic theories state that this family was the first to live in this section of the Nile Delta and that the name of the city originates from the name of this family. However, no scholar was ever able to find a solid concrete evidence to prove this historical fact as of yet.
There are many interesting historical sites in Zagazig and the surrounding Sharkeya governorate.
Situated only 70 kilometers to the North of the city of Zagazig, Tanis is the most important historical site in the Nile Delta. Tanis is the Greek name of the city which was the capital of the Egyptian kingdom during the reign of the 22nd and the 23rd dynasties. Tanis remained as one of the largest cities in Egypt since the reign of the New Kingdom and until the end of the Roman rule of Egypt. This is why the historical site of Tanis hosts a large number of Pharaonic and Greco Roman antiquities.
The location of the city was along the main route where the ancient Egyptians tried to invade the lands of the Hittites, Palestine, and Syria today,. It provided the first defensive line against any attacks coming from the North.
The most important temple of Tanis is the temple of the god Amun and it was one of the largest temples to be constructed in the Nile Delta of Egypt. The major section of this temple was built in the middle of the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. The temple was constructed by Ramses II; the most famous builder of ancient Egypt and the founder of many fabulous temples all around Egypt like the Temple of Abu Simbel situated to the South of Aswan and the hypostyle hall in the Temple of Karnak and a large number of huge statues of himself and the king Amun. Many of the components and different elements of the temple of Amun are still preserved in its original location. The ruins of Tanis attract many tourists who visit Egypt to come explore this distinctive monument.
This includes the huge granite gate, a number of large statues of Ramses II, the builder of the temple, a statue of a sphinx, and there is also a large sacred lake, the second largest in Egypt, after the famous sacred lake of the Karnak Temple in Luxor. The historical site of Tanis also hosts a large number of remarkable obelisks as it is considered to have the largest number of obelisks in Egypt. With more than 20 obelisks, huge and ornamented with the name and the history of Ramses II, Tanis is a very interesting location to check out ancient Egyptian obelisks.
Zagazig is also notable for having one of the most amazing Islamic monuments in the Nile Delta: the Grand Mosque of Zagazig. The mosques were constructed by Mohamed Ali on a surface area of more than 400 square meters Constructed in 1832 as one of the establishing steps of the foundation of a new comprehensive city, the mosque has a facade 11 meters high. The whole complex is based on 8 huge granite columns that were imported from Upper Egypt.
The Mosque has a wonderful minaret that is 30 meters high and is decorated in the traditional classical style of minaret ornaments blended with the Ottoman style. The ceiling of the mosque is made out the purest types of wood and is colored in a wonderful style.