Alexandria - Egypt
The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria is a seaside city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. While nowadays tourists flock here for the beaches, it does in fact have a lot of history to discover.
A little bit of history
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and within 100 years it became the largest city in the world, that is until Rome became powerful and overtook its lead.
The city was once the home of the Legendry Lighthouse of Alexandria, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It also contained the largest library of the ancient world where the greatest scientists and philosophers of the time would come to seek knowledge. It was at this library where the Hebrew Bible was first translated into Greek.
Alexandria passed from the Greeks to the Romans, to the Byzantines and then the Persians. It was the capital of Egypt for hundreds of years until the Arabs conquered Egypt in 641 and founded Cairo. Napoleon took the city in 1798 and the British took it back three years later.
What to see and do in Alexandria
Bibliotheca Alexandrina: While not the original Great Library, which was destroyed hundreds of years ago, this modern version hopes to follow in its footsteps. Not only does it have millions of books but it also displays ancient texts in different collections and exhibitions inside. It is recommended to take one of their tours to fully appreciate this wonderful building and the secrets it contains.
Alexandria National Museum: This relatively new museum (created in 2003) contains over 1800 historical pieces in its 3-storey building with each floor having its own time period. The first floor (and basement) highlights the time of the Pharaohs, the second floor the Graeco-Roman time including archeological excavations from under the sea near the city. The third floor show Islamic and Modern times. Photos without flash are allowed though you have to pay for a “photography” fee to take them.
El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque: This famous mosque in Alexandria was founded in 1307 though most of its present form was built around 1775 (and renovated in 1943). Note, to enter men have to wear a head covering and women must cover their neck, arms and legs.
Corniche: For a relaxing stroll go along the Corniche walkway along the waterfront. Along the way you will find many cafés, restaurants and sights to see, including Fort Qaitbey.
Fort Qaitbey: (also known as the Citadel of Qaitbey) This 15th century fortress was built upon the ruins of the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria and was built to protect the city from Crusaders that used to attack the city.
Pompey’s Pillar: A 25-meter high column build in 297 AD in honor of Emperor Diocletian (no, not Pompey).
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