The Nile river divides Damietta, which is the Capital of the Egyptian Governorate by the same name. The city has had a long history, but alas much of its ancient history is gone, as is often the case in the Nile Delta cities due to the river's destructive forces. The Hebrews knew the city as Kaftoud. In ancient Egypt, it was Tamit, or Tim Any, while in the Roman era and Coptic eras, it was Tamyatish and Tameat, respectively.
Mostly Damietta is an industrial center known for its furniture, leathers, textile and sweets industries in addition to dairy products and rice mills. and for its agricultural heritage. It is also a fishing industry town, with one of the largest fleets on the Mediterranean which accounts for fully half of the fishing boats of Egypt. Finally, it is well known for the port.
Today, Damietta is becoming more and more of a retreat for the people of Cairo who wish to escape the tourist activity of Alexandria and other North coast cities.
Located on a narrow strip of land between the Nile and Lake Manzala lies Dumyat or Damietta in Arabic. It is 210 km (131 miles) northeast of Cairo and 15 km from the
Mediterranean. The city thrived as a trading port throughout the Middle Ages but during the Crusades it suffered greatly. It was occupied by Christian forces twice when St. Francis of Assisi accompanied the invaders. The city was destroyed in 1250 AD by the Mamluks who made the river impassable as punishment for suspected disloyalty and to prevent further invasions. The city was rebuilt by the Ottomans and many of their buildings are still in good condition. After the opening of the Suez Canal, the city has suffered a small amount, but is still a successful port although small.
Outside the town is Lake el Manzalla which is a huge lake that has a vast number of birds during the winter season. There are flamingoes, spoonbills, herons, pelicans and storks that stop here on their migration. On the other side of the branch of the Nile are three beach resorts, Ras el-Bar, Baltim and Gamassa. These resorts are most easily reached by way of Damietta. In the old town of Damietta you will find the Abu El-Maati Mosque that is surrounded by an enormous cemetery. The mosque was built during the Fatimid period when the town was captured by the Muslims. The mosque has been closed down and is falling into ruin.
Last Updated: June 27th, 2011
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