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Arabic الإسماعيلية
Ismaʿilia (Egypt)
Coordinates 30 ° 35 '  N , 32 ° 16'  E Coordinates: 30 ° 35 '  N , 32 ° 16'  E
Basic data
Country Egypt


height 15 m
Residents 386,372 (2017)
Memorial to the opening of the Suez Canal

Ismailia ( Arabic الإسماعيلية, DMG al-Ismāʿīlīya , also Ismaïlia ) is a city in Egypt . It is located at the Timsahsee , a salt lake in front of the bitter lakes, on the Suez Canal , in the middle between Port Said in the north and Suez in the south, about 120 km from Cairo . It was founded in 1863 by Ferdinand de Lesseps with the city name Timsah, but was soon named after the Egyptian Khedive (viceroy) Ismail Pascha .

Ismaïlia belongs to the Al- Ismaïlia governorate , of which it is the capital. The city has 386,372 inhabitants (as of June 1, 2017), around 750,000 people live in the greater Ismaïlia area.

Ismaïlia is connected to Cairo by a 128 km long, once navigable, freshwater canal, the so-called Ismaïlia Canal .


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In Ismailia itself is the seat of the Suez Canal Authority , which takes over the administration of the canal and regulates the shipping traffic; The Ismailia Museum, built in the neo-pharaonic style, has existed since 1932, in whose garden sculptures from the nearby archaeological site of Tell el-Maskhuta (Pithom) , which were discovered during the construction of the Ismailia Canal, are displayed. Ismailia has been home to the Suez Canal University since 1976 .

Close to the city is the El Ferdan Bridge , the longest swing bridge in the world.

The Ismailia Stadium in the city is used by the Ismaily SC football club and for major events such as the 2006 African Cup of Nations.

From August 1974 to July 1979 the city was the headquarters of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II). In 2008 around 10 military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) were still stationed in the city.

Ismaïlia in the present and in the past is mentioned in detail in Markus Werner's novel The Egyptian Heinrich from 1999, in which the Swiss author traces the life story of his great-great-grandfather Heinrich Bluntschli and his role as director of the post office in Ismaïlia in the 1860s .

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Ismailia was originally created as a residential town for the canal workers, engineers and civil servants, mostly from France, Great Britain and Greece. The foundation stone was laid on April 17, 1862 by the Inspector General of the Suez Canal Company and initially received the name Dorf Timsāḥ ( Arabic قرية التمساح Qaryat at-Timsāḥ ). After the Khedive (viceroy) Ismail Pasha acceded to the throneon January 18, 1863, this settlement was renamed Ismailia and the capital of the Canal Governorate. During the canal works it was the most important city along the Suez Canal and the headquarters of the Suez Canal Company. In order to ensure the drinking water supply, the freshwater canal , also called Ismāʿīlīya Canal , was built by French engineers from the Nile in Schubra al-Chaima through the Wadi Tumilat to Ismailiabetween 1861 and 1863.

In 1864 the settlement already had several streets with residential buildings, a central square and a government building. In 1868 it was connected to the railway network. However, the city's glamor and importance were lost as quickly as they came. After the canal work was completed and the canal opened on November 17, 1869, most of the workers moved to Port Said.

About 3,000 people lived here between 1870 and 1890. In the period that followed, the population increased steadily. In 1928 there were already 15,507 inhabitants and in 1950 around 50,000 inhabitants. These were mostly foreigners. Until the British withdrew in 1954, Ismailia was also used as a garrison town. The headquarters of the British military and the civil administration center of the Canal Zone were located here. The troops were mainly in the southwestern suburb of Moascar ( Arabic المعسكر al-Muʿaskar  'the troop camp') stationed. Since 1916, the British had owned a military airport here, 4 kilometers west-northwest of the city, the Royal Air Force Ismailia Airfield , which is now used by the Egyptian military. Another military airfield was built by the British in the 1930s, Royal Air Force Base Deversoir (LG-209), 19 kilometers south-southeast.

In 1916 ʿAbdul-Baha ' (1844–1921), the eldest son of the religious founder Bahāʾullāh , came to Ismailia and founded a Baha'i center in the vicinity of the city . In 1928 the primary school teacher Hasan al-Bannā (1906–1949) founded the Muslim Brotherhood . El-Bannāʾ has been a preacher in local cafes since 1926. Initially the brotherhood was supported by the Suez Canal Society so that a school and a mosque could be founded here. However, the Muslim Brotherhood prevented the Baha'i religion from spreading. The brotherhood grew very quickly. In the early 1940s, the Brotherhood's secret military wing came into being. The Brotherhood's hostility towards the British became increasingly visible. They carried out anti-British attacks and supported the Palestinians in the looming Middle East conflict in the then Mandate Palestine. The Brotherhood's fight against the British at the end of the 1940s led to a veritable guerrilla war, and the Brotherhood then also supported the overthrow of the "Free Officers" in July 1952.

Since October 1951, clashes between British forces and the local Egyptian police became more frequent. The climax was reached on January 25, 1952, when 50 Egyptian police officers were killed in a six-hour skirmish between the two forces. January 25th later became the Egyptian police's day of honor. One day later, the news reached Cairo, where there were massive riots against the British occupation and arson. This day, on which large parts of downtown Cairo were destroyed, went down in history as "Black Saturday".

Today Ismailia is the seat of the Suez Canal Authority, which was established by law on July 26, 1956.

Since 1963, the city has been the capital of the al-Ismaʿiliyya Governorate , which was split from the Canal Governorate.

After the Six Day War in 1967, numerous residents left the city or were evacuated. On October 6, 1973, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal at five points along the Suez Canal, including in the north of the city, thus initiating the Yom Kippur War , known as the October War in Egypt. On October 24, 1973, the armistice reached by the UN was declared. As a result, Ismailia was the headquarters of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II) from August 1974 to July 1979 . Even today, military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization are stationed here. However, after the armistice, only some of the residents returned to the city.

In 2006 there were around 293,000 inhabitants in the city and around 750,000 in the greater Ismailia area.

Economy and Infrastructure


Ismailia has been a university town since 1976. The Suez Canal University , which is represented in several cities, set up twelve of the 28 faculties here.



Ismailia is connected to Cairo via the Autobahn 4 , which passes through the city in the northwest. The distance to Cairo is about 130 kilometers. The motorway continues via al-Qantara (44 kilometers) to Port Said (80 kilometers). From the autobahn exit, continue east on trunk roads 49 and 31, and you reach the city in the south.

The car ferry Nimra Sitta (number 6) runs about four kilometers east of the city of Ismailia and connects the west and east banks of the Suez Canal along trunk road 31. The ferries can of course only operate when there are no ships on the canal. The next bridge is in el-Qanṭara ​​in the north and a tunnel in Suez under the canal.


Ismailia Railway Station

There are train connections to Cairo, Suez and Port Said via Ismailia train station. The El Ferdan Bridge, about 12 km north of Ismailia, the longest swing bridge in the world, connects the Sinai Railway east of the Suez Canal with the rest of the Egyptian railway network and also offers a two-lane road connection over the canal.

Inland shipping

There are boat docks to the south of the city center.

air traffic

Ismailia does not have a civil airport. The airfield Al Ismailiyah Air Base in the northwest is operated by the Egyptian Air Force.




Abu Bakr Mosque
Church of St. Markus
  • Abu Bakr Mosque (مسجد ابو بكر الصديق Masǧid Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣadīq ). 1999 in the north of Gumhiriya Sq. built mosque with two 91 meter high minarets. The prayer room is covered by a large dome. In the corners of the gallery there are four smaller domes.
  • Chalid-ibn-el-Walid Mosque (مسجد خالد بن الوليد Masǧid Chālid bin al-Walīd ), also Sultan Husein Mosque. Mosque in the southeast of El Thawra St.
  • El Abbasi Mosque (الجامع العباسي al-Ǧāmiʿ al-ʿAbbāsī ). 1898 (1316 AH ) in the Arab quarter built mosque in the Ottoman style with a minaret in the southeast corner. It is the oldest mosque in the city.
  • El Isma'ili Mosque (المسجد الاسماعيلي al-Masǧid al-Ismāʿīlī ) mosque north of the railway line.


  • Church of St. Markus. The Coptic Catholic Church was built in 1929 by the architect Louis-Jean Hulot (1871–1959) as the Church of St. François-de-Sales erected. It is located on the eastern side of Ahmed Orabi St.
  • Church of St. Menas. This Greek Orthodox church was built between 1921 and 1935. The three-aisled, colorfully painted church has a stone icon wall.
  • Church of St. George. This simple church was the first Greek Orthodox church to be built around 1865.
  • Maronite Presbyterian Church. The church west of Ahmed Orabi St. was built in 1951.
  • Church of St. George. Coptic Orthodox Episcopal Church.
  • Protestant church (الكنيسة الإنجيلية al-Kanīsa al-Inǧīlīya ). Church immediately south of the freshwater canal in the area of ​​Ahmend Orabi St.
  • Pauluskirche (كنيسة الانبا بولا Kanīsat al-Anbā Būlā ). The modern church with its two tall bell towers is in close proximity to the Commonwealth War Cemetery . There is an extensive Christian cemetery south of the church.


sons and daughters of the town


  • Markus Werner. The Egyptian Heinrich. dtv. Munich: 2004. p. 122 ff.

Individual evidence

  1. Egypt: Governments & Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved August 13, 2018 .
  2. Baedeker, Karl: Egypt and the Sûdan: Handbook for travelers . 8th edition. Baedeker, Leipzig 1928, p. 183 .
  3. Piaton, Claudine (ed.): Ismaïlia: architectures XIXe - XXe siècles (=  Bibliothéque générale / Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale . No. 34 ). Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, Le Caire 2008, ISBN 978-2-7247-0522-5 , pp. 77 f .

Web links

Commons : الإسماعيلية  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Ismailia  - travel guide