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Introducing Port Said

In its late 19th-century raffish heyday, Port Said was Egypt’s city of vice and sin. This louche past of boozing seafarers and packed brothels may have long since been scrubbed away but the period is still evoked in the waterfront’s muddle of once grand architecture today slowly going to seed. The yesteryear allure of the centre is enough of a reason to visit but the main attraction, and the reason for the town’s establishment, is the Suez Canal. The raised pedestrian-only boardwalk running along the waterfront provides up-close views over the canal’s northern entry point, and the free ferry that crosses the canal to the languid suburb of Port Fuad is the only opportunity for casual visitors to ride the waters of this manmade marvel themselves. Although heavily damaged in the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel, Port Said was swiftly rebuilt and today is a fascinating blend of bustling modern port and colonial-era charm, which seems a world apart from Egypt’s other cities.