Arab Republic of Egypt
February 18, 2020
Welcome to Siwa!
The urban oasis of Siwa lies 750 km (466 mi) west of Cairo and only about 50 km (31 mi) east of the Libya border. Consequently, the population of 33,000 is mostly ethnic Berber.
Siwa sits atop the aquifer that begins in Sudan and runs northward in an arc under the Western Desert. South of Siwa, towards Luxor, several other oasis cities lie along the arc and benefit from the springs.
Siwa is blessed with fertile soil, abundant date palms, lakes, streams, irrigation works and scenic hills.
For more than 5000 years, Siwa has been home to tribes and cultures and merchant traders crossing the desert. Alexander was here. Cleopatra. The Germans and the Italians occupied Siwa during the Second World War. The locals hid in caves in the surrounding mountains.
The ancient fortress of Siwa, known as the Shali Ghadi ("Shali" being the name of the town, and "Ghadi" meaning remote), was built on natural rock and made of kershif (salt and mud-brick) and palm logs. The city was finally abandoned after it was damaged by three days of heavy rains in 1926. Only the mosque remains open. We tread a cautious climb up the five stories of abandoned homes and shops.
It’s a shame that Siwa draws so few visitors. This is the real Egypt - the traditional Egypt where everyone is welcoming and kind. Food is fresh and bountiful. The pace of life is calm and satisfying.
Siwa is an Oasis.