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Damietta

Although this city is mostly industrial (its name is synonymous with woods and furniture making after all), Damietta is starting to attract visitors who want a break from the hustle and bustle of Cairo.

DI-AsalFurnitureFactory43-RLCentrally located close to the seaside resorts of Ras El-Bar, Gamasa and Baltim (the latter two are usually packed, though far from upscale), the boat harbor and Port Said, it is also very close to Lake Manzala, one of the richest sources of fish in the country. Birdwatching is also catching on here, and in winter, enthusiasts can feast their eyes on flamingoes, herons, pelicans and storks stopping at lake Manzala on their annual migration trips. If fishing’s what you have in mind, head out to Ezbet El-Borg, home of the biggest fleet on the Mediterranean.

The city itself offers a large number of sightseeing opportunities. Visit the Grand (Kabir) Mosque, also known as Amr Ibn El-Aas, which, it is said, has been built by its namesake in the seventh century. Decades later, it was converted into a church and by 1249 it had become the French King’s (Louis IX) favorite venue for religious festivals. Today, however, it is once again a fully functioning mosque. Other centuries-old edifices to look out for are the Matbouly Mosque and School, built in 1475 by Sultan Qait Bey the Mar Girgis Church, which dates back to 1650. Don’t leave without a stack of purchases from the local sweet shops (sticky-sweet meshabek is not to be passed up) for which the city is famous.

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