Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, City of Alexandria is known as The Pearl of the Mediterranean. Today the second largest city in Egypt, it served as the capital of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period. As a tourist location Alexandria has much to offer in terms of its archaeological importance and extremely rich history.
Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of ancient world was constructed here in 280 BC. Its fascinating history, and its remains discovered in 1994 are worth exploring. Today the Fort of Qaitbay stands in its location. Fort of Qaitbay or Citadel of Qaitbay was built in 15th century and it was built using the remains of Fort of Alexandria. Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay established this citadel as a defensive fortress.
Alexandria was also known as the home of the largest library of the ancient world, Library of Alexandria, which was graced by many of the then prominent scientists and philosophers. Today the Bibliotheca Alexandrina stands in its place, a modern library and research center, which also happens to be the second largest library worldwide.
One of the largest monolithic columns ever erected, Pompey’s Pillar is another tourist attraction replete with fascinating history. The overall height of the pillar is estimated to be around 27 m, and weighs 285 t. It is made of red Aswan granite. It was built in 297 AD as a triumphal column. It commemorates the victory of Diocletian, a Roman emperor.
Located in Abusir in Alexandria, the Temple of Taposiris Magna was built in Ptolemy era. Today the only remains that stand are the outer walls and pylons. Animal necropolis was found by archaeologists strengthening the argument that sacred animals were worshipped here. It was used as a church in later centuries as is evident from the remains of a Christian church here.
Kom El-Dikka, or the Roman Theatre was built in 2nd century AD. This Roman amphitheatre had capacity of 800 spectators and consists of white and gray marble tiers and mosaic flooring. For history lovers a visit to these ruins is a must.
Brilliant harmonizing of different architectural styles which include Greek, Roman and Egyptian styles can be seen if one visits catacombs of Kom el-Shogafa. It is among seven wonders of the middle ages. Objects of funeral rites dating back to Pharanoic cult were excavated here. These archaeological artifacts, as stated above, have Roman as well as Greek influences. Stone coffins, pillars adorned with papyrus and lotus symbols, figurines depicting falcons, human and animal remains, mass burial chamber called Hall of Caracalla are some of the distinguishing features of Kom El Shogafa. Exploring the remains and the whole ambience of the place is a delight for anyone interested in history and archaeology.
Alexandria also houses Shallalat Gardens. These ancient gardens still contain the remains of Alexandria Wall. Long line of pavement booksellers on Nabi Danyal Street, opposite the French Cultural Centre are a delight for all book lovers. Arab world’s most bookshops and book sellers are located in the old town of Alexandria.
El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque, located near Citadel of Qaitbay is a famous mosque. It is dedicated to El-Mursi Abul Abbas, a famous Alexandrine Sufi Saint of 13 the century. Another popular mosque is the Attarine Mosque. After the Muslim conquest of Egypt it was converted into a mosque, but originally it was built as a church dedicated to Saint Athanasius.
Designed in 1870, Corniche is a waterfront promenade near eastern harbor. It runs from Citadel of Qaitbay, and ends near Montaza Palace. A drive around the Corniche provides one with innumerable sites that add to the overall vibe of the city. Statue of Alexander the Great, Bridge of Stanley are some of the worthwhile sightseeing attractions. Stanley Bridge over the Stanley bay and Stanley beaches are located near the city centre.
Montaza Palace and extensive gardens were constructed facing Mediterranean beaches. The Salamlek Palace was also located within these grounds. It was built in late 19th century. In 1932, under King Faud I, Al-Haramlik Palace along with royal gardens was constructed within these grounds. The distinctive features of this addition include Italian Renaissance designs, sea facing open arcades as well as marked influences of the Florentine and Turkish architectural styles.
Maamoura Beach is a famous tourist attraction, located near Montaza’s royal gardens. Its stunning beaches and picturesque parks make it a beautiful location. Presidential Palace of Maamoura, Plaza Mall, and Paradise Inn Resort are some of the popular spots alongside this beach. Tourists can sunbathe or indulge in water sports available along these beaches.
There are many remarkable museums within Alexandria which display glimpses of various aspects of Alexandrine history in all their diversity and glory. Royal Jewelry Museum for instance is an art and history museum. Established in 1986 it contains invaluable collection of jewels of Muhammad Ali Dynasty. Other than the jewels, this museum also boasts of a collection of 19th century paintings and statues which are exhibited here. Several other museums in Alexandria include Alexandria National Museum, the Graeco-Roman Museum among others. The collections displayed here depict the vast and vivid history of this area dating back to Alexander the great.
Alexandria offers diverse and different avenues for tourists to explore. The city leaves one with unique and memorable experiences.