The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria, known as “The Pearl of the Mediterranean”, has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern ; its ambience and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the country although it is actually only 225 km. from Cairo.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Graeco-Roman Egypt, its status as a beacon of culture symbolized by Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Alexandria was also the center of learning in the ancient world. But ancient Alexandria declined, and when Napoleon landed, he found a sparsely populated fishing village.
From the 19th century Alexandria took a new role, as a focus for 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 here and made the city synonymous with commerce, cosmopolitanism and bohemian culture.
Alexandria is a city to explore at random. It’s as important to enjoy the atmosphere as it is to see the sights
The Graeco-Roman Museum
Houses many collections of rare Roman relics and coins- about 40 thousand pieces, from the 3rd century B.C. to the 7th century A.D. The most important being the “Tanafra” statues.
This is a granite pillar, over 25 meters high, and built amidst the ruins of the Serapium in 297 A.D., in honour of Emperor Diocletian.
The Catacombs of Kom al-Shqafa
This is the largest Roman cemetery. It is of three levels and cut in the rock to a depth of 100 feet. Dating to the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., it is a blend of Pharaonic and Roman art.
The Tombs of Al-Anfushi
These Limestone tombs, dating from about 250 B.C. are decorated with pictures of Egyptian gods and daily life.
The Museum Of Fine Arts
Houses collections of sculptures, paintings and architectural works. Exhibitions by contemporary foreign and Egyptian artists are often held there.
The Montazah Palace Gardens
Acres of formal gardens and a beautiful beach make Montazah the foremost city pleasure grounds. Montazah Palace, a grand structure built in a mixture of Turkish and Florentine styles, is now a great statehouse.
The Mosque of Mursi Abul Abbas
Situated in Al-Anfushi, this Andalusian-style mosque is the largest in the city. It has four domes and a very tall minaret.
The Roman Theatre
At Kom Al-Dekka, near the Graeco-Roman Museum, the theatre is considered unique in Egypt for it has 12 semi-circular marble tiers and the theatre is in good condition.
Built along lines of the old Greek houses, it comprises a doorway, corridor and two chambers; it dates back to the 3rd century B.C. and lies north of Saint Mark’s College.
The Library of Alexandria
The newest attraction is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a modern revival of the ancient library. The round, sloped building is partly submerged in water, and inscriptions from various civilizations are carved into its granite walls. The library is a centre for culture, science and research.
Fortress of QaitBey,
An impressive 15th-century fortress (under renovation). It’s on the site where the Great Lighthouse (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) once stood.
N.B: All of Alexandria’s main attractions can be done in one day, so the guests can go by train in the morning and come back to Cairo by train in the evening, unless they want to do diving or spend a lot of time on the beach. In this case we can find them accommodation.
El- Alamein: (the site of one of the most decisive battles of WWII) – 60 km. from Alexandria.
Day visit to the coastal village of El Alamein. Visit the War Museum and War Cemeteries.