Founded in the nineteenth century, Ismailia, Egypt, is located one hundred thirty kilometers northeast of Cairo and is on the crossroads of the journeys to Port Said, eighty kilometers to the north, and Suez, ninety kilometers to the south. It is well served by buses and trains to all points of the country, including Sinai.
The city is named after Pasha Ishmail, who founded it, and was the khedive of Egypt around the time of its founding. Ismailia was then occupied by the British in the late nineteenth century.
Ismailia is a relatively quiet, east-going town. Its streets are lined with old Colonial buildings from the British and French canal-building era in the late nineteenth century. A fine example of these is the Virgin Mary Church, also known as the "Guardian of the Canal." The history of Ismailia is inextricably linked to the Suez Canal. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the director of the Suez Canal Company until its completion, lived here, and you can see his former residence on Mohammed Ali Quay.
On the eastern edge of town, visitors will find the Ismailia Museum that has displays of statues, scarabs, and stelae from the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman eras. In the gardens just southwest of the museum, you will see a statue of a small sphinx from the time of Ramses II. Although it isn't usually possible to enter the gardens, as they're owned by the Suez Canal Authority, the statue is clearly visible from the street.
On the southeastern edge of town, Lake Timsah has several nice beaches, although you'll have to pay to use them as they are owned by private clubs.
There is Ismailia, Egypt hostel accommodation available, catering mostly to local youth and sports groups, but a Ismailia, Egypt hostel is happy to take international travelers looking for cheap hostel dorm beds. If you stay at a hostel in Ismailia, Egypt, you will be located by the lakeshore.
Two important festivals are held in Ismailia each year. In June, the International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts, and in September, the Ismailia International Folklore Arts Festival.
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