Suakin - Sudan
The island port of Suakin was for 3000 years strategically important. This former port is now a crumbled relic, uninhabited and highly atmospheric. Though that might by exaggerating just a tad.
The Egyptian ruler Rameses III initially developed Suakin during the 10th century B.C. At the time it offered an outlet to the Red Sea for trade exploration. 1000 years later, as Islam gained followers and spread from modern-day Saudi Arabia, the port took on new importance and became an outlet for Africans on pilgrimage to Mecca. During the 19th century, Suakin had a third and last flowering, becoming a hub for the slave trade from Eastern Africa. As the slave trade diminished, the port became increasingly unnecessary. By the 1920s, it had fell into complete disrepair. Shallow waters and rough coral had pushed most trade north to Port Sudan, and the coral buildings that were once the crown jewel of the port disintegrated.
Suakin owed its success to its lagoon location, which was ideal for the shallow draft of Arab ships. A 3km channel was eventually cut through the surrounding reef to improve access. The coral that was dredged up was cut into blocks and used in the construction of the island’s buildings. These were then bolstered with wooden pillars and covered with plaster.
The one building still sort of standing in its derelict condition. It's the old government building complete with canons out front. Restoration work is underway. A new government building has been built next to the one I photographed and 2 mosques have been completely re constructed, so come now before it looks all spanking brand new.
On arrival in Port Sudan, I was frog marched into a small office where my details were taken. In Khartoum I had hastily added a few more place names on to my travel permit before leaving it in the sun for a bit to lighten the ink and am pleased to say, it passed it's first test. They were friendly but I was dog tired and just not in the mood for endless questions about my motives for journeying all the way out here. I headed into town, stopping at one place marked on google maps but the price was 25dollars a night... and a place across the road was full and then near the market, a 3 share room, just for me. Costing just peanuts, it's not very luxurious. Infact it is a decrepit as they come but I shake the sheet, string my mozzie net up and suddenly the room becomes my home for 2 nights.
Suakin is just 60km south of the city of Port Sudan, take lots of water. go early.