Ismailia Tourist Attractions
The attractive town of Ismailia, headquarters of the Suez Canal Authority, a pilot station and a traffic junction half way between Port Said and Suez, lies on the north side of Lake Timsah ("Crocodile Lake"). A town of shady avenues, flower lined promenades and luxuriant parks and gardens, it was founded by Lesseps in 1863 at the end of the Ismailia Canal (Freshwater Canal, constructed 1858-63 to provide a supply of drinking water) as the main center of operations during the construction of the Suez Canal and named after Khedive Ismail. After the completion of the canal the town lost its importance but later enjoyed a revival as a British garrison town. In 1956, and again in 1967, Ismailia suffered severe damage during the military operations of those years, when most of the population had to be evacuated. The destruction caused by these wars has only partly been made good.The town, laid out on a regular plan, lies to the north of the Ismailia Canal, which, accompanied by the Mohammed Ali Quay, extends along the north side of the harbor with its port installations, turns down its east side and, after a lock gate opposite the offices of the Suez Canal Authority, flows into Lake Timsah.
From the railroad station Sharia Orabi leads south and crosses the canal to reach the harbor (Harbor Office; Custom House).
A busy shopping street runs southeast from the railroad station by way of the Midan el-Gumhuriya (gardens) to the Mohammed Ali Quay.
Garden of the Stelae
In the Garden of the Stelae are a number of large stelae from Tell el-Maskhuta. Of particular interest are a granite stela in the name of Ramesses II with a relief of the King offering an image of Maat, goddess of truth, to the falcon headed Re-Harakhty and another relief of the King before Atum on the back; Ramesses II between the gods Khepri and Atum; recumbent sphinxes, including one dedicated by Ramesses II to Atum and Harmachis; a fragment of a chapel dedicated by Ramesses II in the Temple of Teliel-Maskhuta; the black granite lid of a sacrophagus belonging to a high palace official from Tell el-Maskhuta; and a granite chapel from El-Arish with an inscription relating to the rule of the gods on earth.
To the east of the Garden of the Stelae is a small but very interesting Museum containing antiquities from the Canal Zone. So much destruction was caused by war and political disturbances that little material of the early period has survived. Outside the entrance to the museum is a sphinx found during the construction of the Canal. On the walls of the museum are displayed a number of mosaic pavements, including one with representations of Phaedra and Hippolytus and the Dionysiac mysteries and with Greek verses, surrounded by birds. Other exhibits include Graeco-Egyptian terracottas and bronze figures (many of them from Tell el-Maskhuta). In the museum garden are fragments of a stela set up by Darius to commemorate the completion of the first freshwater canal 5mi/8km north of Suez, with a hieroglyphic inscription and cuneiform inscriptions in the Persian, Babylonian and Elamite languages.
Some 14mi/22km west of Ismailia, in the Wadi Tumilat, is the Tell el-Maskhuta, the site of the Egyptian stronghold of Tiyeku, which was excavated by E. Naville in 1883. This is believed by many authorities to be the Biblical Pithom (Egyptian Per-Atum, "House of Atum"), one of the two cities which the Israelites were compelled to build for their Egyptian taskmasters (Exodus 1: 11), which became the capital of the eighth nome of Lower Egypt. The store rooms found near the temple, deep rectangular chambers without doors into which the grain was poured from above, are thought to date from the time of Ramesses II and may possibly be the "treasure cities" (storehouses) mentioned in the Bible. Alternatively it has been suggested that these structures were part of a fort.
Map of Ismailia Attractions