The Water Wheels of Fayoum
The oasis town of Fayoum lies about 75 kilometers south of Cairo, Egypt and can be reached by van in about an hour and a half. Visitors to Fayoum get a unique insight into what the typical farmer’s life is like in Egypt by catching a glimpse of the wonderfully preserved ancient saqia (Egyptian water wheels), the main attraction in this serene town. The locals are particularly proud of their water wheels, which were first introduced by the Ptolemies and are now a standing symbol of Fayoum. The seven waterwheels in the city center are on display as evidence of Fayoum’s vital role throughout Egypt’s history. There are also four large water wheels behind the tourist office on Gomhouria Street as well as over 200 water wheels in the Fayoum Oasis region. The purpose of the water wheels is to distribute the waters of the Bahr Yusef throughout the oasis.