What to see in Egypt

Alexandria

Tourist attractions Alexandria

Founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great, a trip to Alexandria is the chance to explore one of the most historically significant cities in the whole of Egypt, if not the Mediterranean. The setting for several defining moments of ancient history, Alexandria is the second-largest city in the country and is situated on the Mediterranean coast of northern Egypt. Famously, Alexandria was home to the legendary Library of Alexandria and the mythical Lighthouse of Alexandria, known as Pharos, one of the lost 7 wonders of the ancient world! After its founding, Alexandria quickly grew to become one of the most important cities in the Hellenic world and a prestigious centre of learning and science. If you visit Alexandria today, you’ll still find an intellectual atmosphere, with bustling literary cafes and plenty of museums and book shops as well as the modern Library of Alexandria. 

In the 7th-century, the city surrendered to Arab conquest before flourishing again in the Mamluk Islamic period. Despite widespread destruction during the Napoleonic wars and devastating outbreaks of disease in the 18th-century, the city had a further renaissance in the 19th-century, when it was returned to its former glory following reconstructions by the Ottoman governor. By the turn of the 20th-century, it became known as a city of poets and novelists and attracted a number of international intellectuals.

If you travel to Alexandria today, you’ll encounter a city at the beating heart of Egyptian culture. A trendy-setting, innovative place, it's the kind of city where you can pursue all kinds of passions, from sun-bathing at the beach to sightseeing or uncovering the literary secrets held within the Library of Alexandria. Seamlessly balancing the influences of Mediterranean and Egyptian culture, Alexandria is a cosmopolitan place and feels different to Cairo. 

The faded elegance of this city only adds to its charm, and the glory of yesteryear is most evident along the grand seafront corniche, the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. With monuments ranging from Roman ruins to Sultan-era castles, a tour of Alexandria is a journey through history. Furthermore, you’ll find some of Egypt’s best eateries here, especially when it comes to seafood restaurants! Visiting Alexandria couldn’t be easier as it’s only a 2.5-hour train ride from Cairo.

Things to see in Alexandria

With dozens of things to see in Alexandria, it can be tricky to know where to begin a tour of the city. A good place to start is along the seafront corniche, as it’s where many of Alexandria’s most famous sights are located. Of course, one of the most interesting sights in the city is the brand-new Library of Alexandria. Risen from the ashes of where the legendary ancient library once stood, the Library of Alexandria is housed within a surprisingly contemporary building, full to bursting with books across three main languages: French, Arabic and English. Furthermore, an extensive manuscript collection houses fascinating works and documents from antiquity. A real cultural hub, the Library of Alexandria is also home to multimedia theatres, children's libraries, an internet archive, four museums, four galleries and a planetarium! Situated on the seafront, it’s one of the most unmissable sights to visit in Alexandria.

Continue along the corniche towards Alexandria harbour and you’ll come across the eye-catching Sidi Morsi Abu al-Abbas Mosque. One of the best things to see in Alexandria, the mosque is dedicated to the 13th century Sufi Saint Abul Abbas al-Mursi, whose remains are buried at the site. Dating back to 1307, its beautiful, ornate facade is more modern, having been updated in the 20th-century, and is inspired by classical Egyptian architecture.

The final must-see along the corniche is the Qaitbay Citadel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This elegant, yet imposing fortress was built by Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay in the year 1480 on the spot where the legendary Pharos Lighthouse once stood. Designed to protect the city from Crusaders, it has been rebuilt and redesigned several times since. Nowadays it houses a Maritime Museum.

For a deeper look at the city and its immense cultural heritage, be sure to pay a visit to the National Museum of Alexandria. Just a few blocks inland from the Library, this excellent museum is housed within a restored Italian-style villa. The collection seamlessly guides visitors through the turbulent and eventful history of Alexandria with priceless relics ranging from Greek statues to Ancient Egyptian artefacts! 

 

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