A city with its own unique magic, Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo, the capital of Egypt. The city of Alexandria combines a marvelous blend of Egyptian, Arab, Mediterranean, and Greco Roman features. With many interesting monuments a large number of tourists who visit Egypt prefer to spend a day or two exploring the city.
Established by Alexander the great in the 4th century BC, Alexandria has served as the capital of Egypt for a considerable period of time. This is why the city today hosts a number of remarkable monuments like the Roman Amphitheatre, the Qaitbay Fort, and the Library of Alexandria that are visited by numerous travelers during their tours in Egypt.
Geographical Location of Alexandria
The city of Alexandria is situated in the Northern section of Egypt 230 kilometers to the South West of Cairo. The Mediterranean Sea occupies the northern border of the governorate of Alexandria, the Mariout Lake to the South, El Beherra Governorate to the East and the North Coast of Egypt to its West.
With the surface are of more than 2000 square kilometers, and a wonderful shore that extends for more than 60 kilometers from East to West on the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is one of the most famous summer resorts for Egyptians and tourists spending their holidays in Egypt as well.
The History and establishment of Alexandria
In the beginning of the 4th century BC, there was nothing present near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt but the white sands of the desert, the island of Rhacotis with many a number of small villages around it between the sea and, and the Lake Mariot.
The name of the city of Alexandria goes back to its founder, Alexander the great, the great Macedonian conqueror and army leader. Alexander came to Egypt in 332 BC and the Egyptian people who hoped that his conquest would end the cruel Persian rule of Egypt warmly welcomed him.
When Alexander took control over Egypt, he wanted to prove to the Egyptians that he came to the country to improve their living conditions and overall style of life and not to steal from the wealth of the country. Therefore, he went on his famous journey to the temple of the oracle of Amun near Siwa to gain legitimacy to his rule.
On his way to Siwa, Alexander passed by a fishing village that was called ” Rhacotis ” on his way and he found himself fond of that specific destination so he decided to build a city holding his name in the specific location of this village. He assigned to Decriannus, a clever engineer to construct Alexandria in the style of Greek cities at the time.
Alexander has officially started the construction process of Alexandria in 331 BC.
After its construction, the city of Alexandria has passed through many periods of times and dynasties including the Ptolemaic, the Roman, The Byzantine, and the Islamic era. This is why Alexandria nowadays has a great variety of monuments dating back to different periods of time.
Alexandria during the Ptolemies
In a very short period of time, Alexandria has become a famous cultural, economical, and political Mediterranean center. It has actually become the capital of the Ptolemaic empire in Egypt afterwards.
In the beginning, Alexandria was more like a military meeting point of the Greek soldiers and military officers. Afterwards during the time of the Ptolemies, Alexandria has transformed into a royal city with many wonderful gardens, white marble columns, wide paved streets, and the Eastern harbor was called the grand port in comparison to the other port located in the district of Abu Qir at the time.
The new city of Alexandria has gained its fame from its ancient university as students used to come from all regions of the Greek empire to study in the University, its ancient library, the first research institution in history, and its lighthouse that was considered to be among the seven wonders of the old world.
The scholars and students of Alexandria have studied many sciences including physics, astronomy, Geography, Geometry, math, history, medicine, philosophy, and literature.
Excavation missions have discovered many underwater treasures in Abu Qir recently that date back to 2500 years in the past when the two ancient cities of Heraklion and Mentis were located near Alexandria, while they became part of the underwater section of Abu Qir.
Heraklion was a commercial port with a strategically important location situated at the end of one of the Nile branches that was called Canop at the time.
Mentis was a religious sacred city and the cult center of the worship of Isis and Serapis, two of the most important ancient Egyptian gods that were worshiped in Egypt.
The two cities have drowned in the water of the Mediterranean Sea due to a severe earth quack or a flood of the Nile River.
Alexandria has remained as the capital of Egypt during the Greek, the Roman, and the Byzantine periods until the Arabs conquered Egypt in 642 and then the capital of Egypt changed to become the Fustat, which was established by Amr Ibn El Aas in 641 AD.
With the population reaching more than five million inhabitants that increase by a million Egyptian vacationers in the summer, Alexandria has become a wonderful hub in Egypt today.
Featured with many cafes overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, a number of the best fish restraints in Egypt, many activities to do, and much much more, Alexandria is one of the most favorite destinations for Egyptians and foreigners who travel to Egypt all the same.
The most famous monuments of Alexandria would include Fort Qaitbay, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Montazah Complex, the Greco Roman Museum, and Library of Alexandria, Abu El Abass El Mursi Mosque, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa.