Inscribed on the World Monument Fund's
World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites for 2006.
An island just off the Red Sea coast, Suakin may have been the site of the Roman port Evangelon Portus mentioned by Ptolemy. Arab traders, attracted by the promise of gold, settled on Suakin Island in the tenth century. By the fifteenth century, it was flourishing as a trading port of Mamluk Egypt and was inhabited by Venetian and Indian merchants until the Ottoman invasion of 1517. For the next three centuries, until the arrival of the British, the Ottomans oversaw major construction programs on the island, including distinctive coral buildings decorated with carved stone, elaborately decorated Rojan windows, and intricate plasterwork. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 briefly revived trade in and around Suakin and was responsible for a new round of construction of public buildings. Defensive walls and forts were built by the British to defend against rebel Sudanese Mahdist forces in 1870–1899. The construction of Port Sudan to the north of Suakin spelled the end of of the island’s livelihood, and it was largely abandoned by 1922.