Suez (el-Suweis) is located on the Southern tip of the Suez Canal, and has been a commercial port since the 7th century. The spice trade and pilgrimages to Mecca made it prosperous throughout the Middle Ages. It became a naval base in the 15th century and, in 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal ensured its development as a modern city. Today, Suez is one of Egypt's largest ports. It is situated near the scenic Ataga Hills (Jebel Ataga), about 134 kilometers (83 miles) from Cairo and 88 kilometers (55 miles) from Ismailia, this city affords an excellent view of Sinai and the Red Sea. It is also interesting to watch ships passing through the Canal form Suez's vantage point.