Qaitbey fort, Alexandria Egypt

Brief guide to Alexandria, Egypt


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.

On our tours to Alexandria, you can expect to visit the Citadel (on the site of the legendary Lighthouse of Alexandria buit by Ptolemy II), Fort Qaitbey, the Roman amphitheatre and the catacombs of Kom al-Shoqafa, which is the largest Roman cemetery in Alexandria. If time allows, then we may also be able to make a stop at the World War II cemeteries of Al Alamein.

In ancient times, Alexandria was one of the most famous cities in the world. It was founded around a small pharaonic town c. 331 BC by Greek Macedonian king Alexander the Great. It remained Egypt’s capital for nearly a thousand years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641 AD when a new capital was founded at Fustat, later absorbed into Cairo.

Alexandria was known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the Library of Alexandria (the largest library in the ancient world) and the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages).

“Pompey’s Pillar” is the best-known ancient monument still standing today. It is located on Alexandria’s ancient acropolis — a modest hill located adjacent to the city’s Arab cemetery — and was originally part of a temple colonnade. Including its pedestal, it is 30 m (99 ft) high; the shaft is of polished red granite, roughly three meters in diameter at the base, tapering to two and a half meters at the top. The structure was plundered and demolished in the 4th century when a bishop decreed that Paganism must be eradicated. “Pompey’s Pillar” is a misnomer, as it has nothing to do with Pompey, having been erected in 293 for Diocletian, possibly in memory of the rebellion of Domitius Domitianus.

It is also possible to go diving in Alexandria, where you can dive and swim over the top of Cleopatra’s City and view the columns.  Many wrecks are also visible in the area.

Not only is Alexandria high on the foreign tourist destination list, but even Egyptians flock to this seaside town, whose temperate, Mediterranean climate can often be a great relief to people from the Delta and Upper Egypt.

Getting to Alexandria from Cairo usually takes around 3 hours when travelling on one of our tours, however, it can take longer on the return journey as the traffic heading into Cairo in the afternoon can be quite heavy.

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