About El Faiyum
Although featured by its wonderful greenery and natural beauty, a number of interesting historical sites with some pyramids and the natural protected area of Wadi El Rayan that hosts the only real waterfalls in Egypt, tourists who spend their vacations in Egypt usually miss El Fayoum.
Many people consider El Fayoum to be a smaller Egypt. This is because El Fayoum has many of the characteristics and features of Egypt. This includes the fact that the people of Egypt has gathered around the River Nile and the same applies for El Fayoum as many of the embellishment of the city is around Bahr Yousef, which is a branch of the River Nile.
This is beside the fact that El Fayoum has an industrial, agricultural, Bedouin, and fishing communities; representing all the communities of Egypt. This is why it is truly sad that many travelers spending their holidays in Egypt miss the chance to visit El Fayoum.
Geographical location of El Fayoum
The city of El Fayoum, which is the capital of the governorate that holds the same name, is located only 105 kilometers to the Southwest of Cairo, the Egyptian capital.
El Fayoum is situated in the place called Northern Lower Egypt that contains the governorates of El Fayoum, El Minya, and Beni Swef. El Fayoum is divided into five provinces; the city of El Fayoum, Itsa, Senoures, Ibshway, and Yousef El Sadeeq.
El Fayoum is located around 567 kilometers to the North west of Luxor, 600 kilometers to the East of Sharm El Sheikh, 492 to the North West of Hurghada, and about 378 kilometers away from El Bahariya Oasis.
Although many people think that El Fayoum is an oasis, it doesn’t have any of the characteristics of oases in Egypt. The water through which El Fayoum uses to survive does not come from the natural underground springs. It comes from one of the branches of the River Nile that is called Bahr Yousef.
The name El Fayoum
This region was called the Chdat, or the island in the ancient Egyptian language. This was when it was first formed, it was an island in Maurice Lake that once covered a huge area in the Western Desert of Egypt.
Afterwards, the Copts of Egypt named it Piom that means the city of the lake, in reference to the Qarun Lake that dominates the Northern section of the Fayoum. Afterwards, the Arabs named it Phiom and then it turned to what we know today as El Fayoum.
The history and establishment of El Fayoum
El Fayoum has a rich long history as the ancient Egyptians knew it since the pre-dynastic era. The first mention of El Fayoum in ancient history was when Menes, the unifier of Egypt, built a sand dam in the area of Lahoun in the 32nd century BC.
With the beginning of the dynastic period in Egypt, many small villages were established around the Maurice Lake to work in agriculture and in fishing.
Afterwards, the kings of the 3rd dynasty started importing different stones from El Fayoum to be used in the construction of the pyramids in Giza in the 26th century BC.
Afterwards, El Fayoum was named Ber Sobek or the house of the crocodile because a very large number of crocodiles resided in the area to the extent that the locals started considering the crocodile as a god that was called Sobek.
The king Amenmhat I who ruled Egypt in the 12th century BC gave special attention to El Fayoum as he repaired the rout of Bahr Yousef and constructed a number of dams. He also constructed himself a pyramid in Hawara. Amenmhat III also worked to increase the agricultural lands in El Fayoum and constructed his temple of Madinet Madi.
El Fayoum also attracted the attention of the Ptolemies and the Romans. Ptolemy II worked to dry some sections of the Qarun Lake and this led to the establishment of many villages like Demieh Sebaa, Karanis, and Senoures. During the Roman rule of Egypt, El Fayoum witnessed a state of prosperity that lasted for more than two decades.
However, this state of richness declined at the end of the 3rd century BC and this was reflected to the situation in El Fayoum as well. When the Ottomans became the rulers of Egypt, many new industries emerged in El Fayoum like cotton products and rice factories.
El Fayoum Today
El Fayoum today is famous for the wonderful ambience of the resorts overlooking the Qarun Lake, the largest natural lake in Egypt. This is besides the natural protected Area of Wadi El Rayan that is among the most popular protected areas in Egypt and it hosts the only real natural waterfall in Egypt.
Moreover, El Fayoum has some remarkable historical sites that attract some tourists spending their tours in Egypt. This includes the Pyramid of Hawara that is located about 9 kilometers away from the city of El Fayoum. This pyramid was constructed by Amenmhat III in the 12th century BC.
One of the most interesting monuments of El Fayoum is Madinet Madi that is situated 35 kilometers to the South West of the city of El Fayoum. This site has the ruins of a temple that was constructed during the reign of the 12th and the 13th dynasty of ancient Egypt. This is considered the largest and best-preserved temple that was built during the reign of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt.
There is also the Lahoun Pyramid that is a huge pyramid that is 48 meters in height and the length of its base is more than 105 meters. Senusert II who ruled Egypt from 1897 to 1878 BC, constructed the pyramid at Lahoun.
One of the landmarks of the city of El Fayoum, besides the famous seven waterwheels, is the obelisk of Senusert that is made out granite and has a height of 13 meters. It was erected by king Senusert as a celebration of the beginning of the works to transform the lands of El Fayoum into agricultural lands.