The city of Suez is located where the canal of the same name enters the gulf. While this city of nearly half a million inhabitants has never been a huge tourist draw, there is now an extra enticement for visitors to make the two-hour (or so) journey from Cairo.
The Suez National Museum opened earlier this year after six years of construction, the first major museum to open since the Egyptian Revolution, though it has been in planning since 1994. It houses around 1,500 archaeological pieces spanning some 7,000 years, from Suez’s prehistory to the present day. Standing on the banks of the Suez Canal, it includes among its exhibits evidence of the Sesostris Canal, an ancient forerunner of the modern waterway, established by King Senusret III.
The original Suez Museum was destroyed in the 1967 war with Israel, but its contents were transported to Cairo in time and returned to the city in 2005. The current museum highlights the city’s importance as a trading and shipping center over the millennia with representations of boats figuring prominently among the antiquities. The modern building draws on the monolithic structures of Dynastic Egypt, with most of the exhibits displayed in a huge hall on the first level. Further themed spaces explore various aspects of the history of Suez, including mining, trading and the Suez Canal, as well as a display showing the mummification process. There are around 6,800 square meters of exhibition space.