Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, known as “The Pearl of the Mediterranean”. Its weather is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern; its ambience and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the countries although it is only 225 km away from Cairo.
In ancient times, Alexandria was one of the most famous cities in the world. It was founded around a small pharaonic town in 334 BC by Alexander the Great. It remained Egypt’s capital for nearly a thousand year until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641 AD when a new capital was founded at Fustat (Fustat was later absorbed into Cairo).
Alexandria is known for many landmarks such as : the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the Library of Alexandria (the largest library in the ancient world) and the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages). Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994, is revealing details about Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhakotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
From the 19th century Alexandria took a new role as it focuses on Egypt’s commercial and maritime expansion. This Alexandria has been immortalized by writers such as E-M- Forster and Cavafy. Generations of immigrants from Greece, Italy and the Levant settled there and made the city synonymous with commerce, cosmopolitanism and bohemian culture.
In addition to all the mentioned landmarks of Alexandria, there are many famous places there such as:
The Qaitbay Citadel
The Citadel of Qaitbay is a 15th century defensive fortress located on the Mediterranean sea coast, built upon/from the ruins of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt. It was established in 1477 AD by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay.
Location: The Citadel is situated on the eastern side of the northern tip of The Pharos Island at the mouth of the Eastern Harbor.
History: Qaitbay was fond of art and architecture as he created an important post among the administrative system of the state; it was the Edifices Mason (Shady Al-Ama’er). He built many beneficial constructions in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
El-Montazah area is situated along the coast about 20 kilometers east of Alexandria’s old district. You can reach it while driving along the Corniche where many of the modern Alexandrian hotels are located. The magnificent Montazah Palace and Park are certainly a highlight of Alexandria.
This complex is surrounded by great walls from the south, east and west, and with the beach on its north side. This area belongs to the Mohamed Ali’s family that ruled Egypt from the mid XIXth century until 1952. The complex construction was started in 1892 by King Abbas II, who built a large palace inside the complex called the Salamlek. In 1932 King Fuad built a larger palace and called it the Haramlik.
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or the Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and likely existed at least until the period of Rome’s rule over Egypt. Generally thought to have been founded at the beginning of the third century BCE, the library was conceived and opened either during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter or during the reign of his son Ptolemy II. Plutarch (AD 46–120) wrote that during his visit to Alexandria in 48 BC, Julius Caesar accidentally burned the library down when he set fire in his own ships to frustrate Achillas attempt by limiting his ability to fight through the sea. According to Plutarch’s account, this fire spread to the docks and then to the library.
However, this version of events is not confirmed in contemporary accounts of Caesar’s visit. In fact, it has been reasonably known that the library, or at least segments of its collection, was destroyed on several occasions before and after the first century BCE.
Intended both as a commemoration and an emulation of the original library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002 near the site of the old library.
By Shimaa Abd El Mageed