The Fayyum Oasis lies in a depression, right in the Western Desert, about 103 km. south-west of Cairo.
It is surrounded by high plateaus, and esparated
from the Nile Valley by a high ridge to the east at
al-Lahun. Its water comes from the River Nile via Bahr Yussuf (Joseph's Canal), which leaves the Ibrahimeya Canal at Assyut.
Fayoum is not a true oasis since it depends on Nile water, not underground springs or wells: the ancient Bahr Yussef canal runs through the centre of the city and irrigates the land.
In Pharaonic times, Fayyum was one of the 20 nomes of Upper Egypt.
Its capital was "Ihnisia", which after flourishing was renamed "Birsin",
or "Hluse of the Crocodile", the sacred animal at that time.
The name Fayoum originates from the hieroglyphic word Bayoum,
which meant "the sea", a reference to the large inland lake, Karoun.
Only two hours from Cairo by road, Fay oum is renowned for its year-round
warm climate, numerous water wheels (introduced by the Ptolemies in the 3rd century )and lush agricultural land.
Cotton, clover, tomatoes, medicinal plants and fruit are all grown here.
The local souk in Fayoum City sells copperware, spices and gold jewellery and there is a special pottery market once a week.
Opposite the souk is the Hanging Mosque, built above five arches, and nearby is the 15th-century Mosque of Kwawand Asla-Bey built by Sultan Qaitbey.
Fayoum has been a traditional hunting ground since pharaonic times when
Crocodilopolis, centre of the cult of Sobek, was the capital of the region.
There are many pharaonic sites in the area; for example, a red granite
obelisk of Senuseret I and the pyramid of Senuseret II at Lahun, the
pyramid of Amenemhat III at Hawara, and the remains of the ancient city
of Karanis, where you can camp and visit the site museum.
Birdlife still abounds around Lake Qaroun, bordered by semi-nomadic
Bedouin settlements and fishing villages. Here, on the edge of the desert, you can sail, windsurf, swim and fish.
Other places of outstanding natural beauty near Fayoum are the
hot springs at Ain al-Siliyin, where you can bathe, and the waterfalls
at Wadi al-Rayan, 40 km towards Bahariyya, also suitable for swimming and picnics.
Some other tourist attractions:
The Pyramid of Hawara, Al-Lahun, Pyramid Base of Amnemhet III,
Obelisk of Senusert and Madinet Madi, all dating to the 12th Dyn.
GREEK AND ROMAN MONUMENTS
There are the ruins of a number of towns and palaces such as
Ancient Karanis, Kum Al-Atal, Dimieh Al-Sibah, Qasr Qarun, Om al-Braygat,
Qasr al-Saghah, Biahmu, and Ahurit.
Lake Qarun is the third largest lake in Egypt. Its depth rages from
5 meter in the east to 12 meter in the west.
It is part of the ancient Lake Moeris, visited by Herodotus in 450 B.C.
In it is the Island of Al-Qarn, al-Dhahabi (Golden Horn) and is an
excellent site for watersports, such as windsurfing, fishing and
Fayyum boasts of 200 water wheels that are used to irrigate the land.
HOW TO GET THERE:
By Rail: Tel. 753553
By Bus : Upper Egypt Bus Service, Tel. 3908635
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