Ferdinand de Lesseps was a French man and the director of the contruction of the Suez Canal, for which he received permission
in 1854, from Said Pasha, viceroy of Egypt.
Today his house and garden can be visited, to see how rich and powerful people lived at the turn of the century.
One of the few other sights of Ismailia town is also connected with Ferdinand De Lesseps. In this case it's his carriage: it was once displayed inside his house garden, but recently it has been moved... it's now out in the streets for everyone to be seen - just around the corner from his house.
The Suez Canal is the very unnatural link between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea... unnatural but useful, as it makes a ship's way to India much shorter. The alternative would be to circumnavigare Africa!
Whi had this brilliant idea? Many, including Napoleon... but the person who carried out was not him but another French man: Ferdinand de Lesseps.
Construction started in 1859 and it went on for 8 years.
The offician inauguration, however, took place only in 1869. In the extra 2 years they built a highway linking Cairo to Ismailia, and then an Opera House. Giuseppe Verdi was commissioned to compose the Aida - yes, for the Canal's official opening!!! But he never made it in time. Aida was not performed at the ceremony.
Market area is typically Egyptian! Its dirty, busy, lively and full of interesting street scenes to observe. In this area there is also a taxi rank and a micro bus station "- these are microcosm of the surrounding neighbourhood, which features muddy, potholed streets, horn-honking maniacs and smoking piles of garbage!” (L.P.5th edition)
Be careful when taking pictures! Not everybody on the market likes it. Ask before you make a mistake.
Enjoy the comparatively peaceful quarter east of the railway. The main square is Midan al Gomhuryya. The promenade is named Sharia Salah Salem and running along the sweet water canal. At night time this is the place where young Ismailyans stroll along with their beloved. Its a kind of a “love mile”!
If you want to go swimming and do not feel like jumping into the canal then Lake Timsah is another option. The “Crocodile Lake” what Timsah means in Arabic is a lake the canal is built through. There are no crocks any more and swimming is safe.
To get there it a good idea to hire a bicycle or take a taxi as its about 12 km south of town. There are several Clubs that will welcome you to their private beaches for an entrance fee of about 20 E.P. Sometimes a meal or a drink is included.
The local female dress code to go swimming is fully dressed! Don´t even think about taking pictures here!
The Suez Canal is certainly the main attraction of Ismailya! Its one of the worlds most important water ways. The idea of a canal connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to avoid the passage around Southern Africa is very old but only during the 19th century the project was successfully finished.
Its a nice and relaxing way to to spend a couple of hours to observe the large ships passing by.
To reach the canal its a pleasant 40 minutes walk along the sweet water canal or a short taxi ride for 2 E.P. The road ends at the ferry jetty. There a is restaurant that offers local dishes and beverages.
A couple of years ago this was one of the few places in the world where it was possible to swim from one continent to another. Nowadays its at least possible to cross by ferry to the Sinai side.
Be careful with taking pictures! Officially its forbidden!