Alexandria the city still exists
A city with history
Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria or Alexandria (approx. 3.5 million inhabitants, Greater Alexandria 5 million), was founded in 331 BC. Founded by Alexander the Great in the wide-ranging Nile Delta directly on the Mediterranean coast. It was once the capital of the Ptolemy Empire and later became one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire. Alexandria is one of the most important metropolises in the ancient world and is the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo.
With its extension of about 32 km along the Mediterranean Sea, however, it is the largest city in Egypt with direct access to the Mediterranean. It also has the largest seaport in Egypt, where more than 80% of Egypt's foreign trade is handled and, as an extremely important industrial location, is supplied with oil and gas from Suez via pipelines.
It originated at the point where the ancient Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis was first founded and developed into an important center not only of Hellenistic, but also of Roman and Byzantine Egypt. Alexandria was not only known as the capital of the province of Aegyptus or Dioecesis Aegypti, as it was later called. The great lighthouse of Pharos, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and inside the great library, was also located here.
After the Islamic conquest and the founding of Cairo, Alexandria lost more and more of its importance until it was at the beginning of the 19th century. had sunk to the rank of a small fishing village. With the construction of the Mahmudiyakanal and the increasingly important trade in Egyptian cotton, the city was able to rise again to an international trading center.
In addition, Alexandria is one of the richest port cities in the eastern Mediterranean with the corresponding Mediterranean charm and flair. Palm-lined sandy beaches in the picturesque bays stretch for kilometers from Alexandria to the east: bays to dream and fall in love with. Alexandria is always worth a visit, whether for swimming or sightseeing!
The geographic background
Alexandria is located in Egypt on the western edge of the Nile Delta and lies just above the water level on a narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea, behind which the lagoon-like brackish water lake Mariut extends. Over the course of history, this lake has become smaller and smaller. The Alexandria Canal, which was once built by the Prolemeans, flows out of the Nile Delta. It is used for fresh water supply and inland navigation and was renewed between 1807 and 1820. At the same time, a new connection was established from Alexandria to the Mediterranean. Since then it has been called the Mahmudia Canal.
The old town of Alexandria, al-Medina, was built on the headland. It was built along the embankment to the island of Pharos in 300 BC. BC originated. To the south of al-Medina there is now a suburb that extends over a length of 15 km, in which a settlement area has emerged. Alexandria is located in the governorate of the same name, approx. 65 km from the city of Rosette, 240 km from the Suez Canal and 225 km from Cairo. It forms an administrative area with an area of 2679 km².
On the history of Alexandria
In the Hellenistic period, between 2700 and 2200 BC BC, Alexandria was settled for the first time. Alexander the Great, general and Macedonian king, founded in 331 BC BC Alexandria and precisely at the point where the Egyptian settlement of Rachotis was previously located and thereby determined the position of the marketplace and the main traffic route.
The plans for the city of Alexander the Great were drawn by the Greek architect Deinocrates and although Alexander the Great was so proud of his city, he left it in 331 BC. BC with his army to the east and did not return until the end of his life. The government was briefly placed in the hands of the official Cleomenes of Naukratis, who oversaw the construction of the city.
After the death of Alexander the Great, Ptolemy (305-283 BC) arranged for his body to be transferred to Alexandria and had him buried in a golden coffin, probably in the royal mausoleum, which is believed to be on the site where the Nebi Daniel Mosque stands.
However, Alexandria was only completed under the rule of Ptolemy II, who ruled between 285 and 246 BC. Ruled. However, it became the royal seat of the Ptolemaic kings between 320 and 311 BC. Alexandria retained this function until the end of the Ptolemaic Empire.
As a polis, Alexandria did not belong directly to Egypt, but was long referred to as "Alexandria near Egypt", which was not to change until Roman times. In its heyday, between 300 and 395 BC BC, the city was an economic, spiritual and political center of the Hellenistic and later also the Roman world. The famous lighthouse of Pharos (built approx. 299–279 BC), the Museion with the large (Alexandrian) library and countless theaters, palaces and temples made the city's popularity soaring. So she was soon known throughout the Mediterranean.
The canal, which was built at the same time as the city, carried fresh water and fed an extensive system of cisterns.
Alexandria has long been an extremely important city in Egypt. After the Islamic conquest in AD 641 and the founding of Cairo, Alexandria lost its importance.
Alexandria in the 20th century
Around the 1920s, Alexandria became the center of life for countless people of various nationalities, who benefited from the surrender system from the Ottoman era, the right to dual citizenship. Greeks and Italians in particular, but also the Jewish community that had lived here since ancient times, came to the city. With the Sephardim, i.e. those Jews who came to Alexandria as a result of the exodus in Spain in the 15th century, economic life also flourished, as they contributed to financial life with the establishment of banks and companies. Thus, the social and economic elite education of Jewish Alexandrians soon developed here.
As a response to the establishment of the State of Israel, but in the course of the general emancipation of the colonial peoples, the Pan-Arabism movement emerged in 1948. As a result, the living situation of the ethnic minorities became worse and worse. From the middle of the 20th century, the population increased rapidly and rose to over 4 million. In return, 50,000 Jews left Alexandria as part of Operation Kadesh in October 1956. Furthermore, Gamal Abdel Nasser initiated his socialist course with nationalization and nationalism decrees, whereby many people lost their fortunes and the city became impoverished.
Alexandria in the 21st century
Alexandria is next to Cairo as the most important city in today's Egypt. It has an international airport and an important seaport.
Alexandria Airport, also known as El Nozha, connects directly to the city in the south, which is why it has good transport links. It is one of two airports and is located in the north of Alexandria. However, it is currently closed, which is why al-´Arab Castle, which is southeast of Alexandria, is the only airport with ongoing operations. Originally, the renovation work after the opening of the new Burg al-´Arab airport in El Nozha was supposed to take only 2 years, include an extension of the runway and the construction of a new terminal and cost around 120 million US dollars. In 2015, however, the airport was still closed and the construction work was still described as "planned".
The port of Alexandria is the largest Egyptian seaport in terms of transshipment and has existed since 1900 BC. It is located on both sides of the island of Rās at-Tīn, which emerged from the ancient island of Pharos. The port on the eastern bank is a pure boat harbor. The Westhafen is the actual seaport. However, 60% of Egypt's foreign trade is handled through the port of Alexandria. This port is also of great importance for tourism, as many cruise ships call there.
The different neighborhoods of Alexandria
Here you will find important information about the different districts of Alexandria.
From west to east these are divided into:
The city area west:
It is located west of El-Gumuruk, the headland that separates the western port from the port bay of Alexandria. In the eastern part of the city area West is the Westhafen, industrial settlements and residential buildings. In the west of Alexandria you can also find various residential areas. In the far west you can also find many seaside resorts, especially in the districts of el-Agami and El-Hannoville. El-Agami is also known as the residential center of the rich. There are also catacombs of Kūm esch-Shuqāfa and the serapeum with the Pompey column.
Here are some residential areas, but also the Qāitbāy citadel, the summer palace Raʾs et-Tīn of Muhammad 'Ali, the neo-Islamic Abu-el-Abbas-el-Mursi mosque and the ancient burial ground of el-Anfūschī. But you can also visit Tahrir Square, where you can find some imposing buildings by European architects.
The Center / City / Downtown of Alexandria:
The center of Alexandria is in the eastern half of the harbor basin. Here you will find residential and administrative buildings, as is usual in the center of a city, but it is a traffic junction, the main train station and the tram terminus are located here.
In the center you can also find archaeological sites such as the theater in Kūm ed-Dikka, the Ras es Soda temple, the alabaster tomb and the burial ground of Shatbi. In the city there are also the most famous museums, such as the Greco-Roman Museum, the National Museum, in which you can see a lot of information about the early days of the city as well as exhibits from this period. But here, too, there are countless buildings by European architects and the Bibliotheca Alexandria, which of course forms the architectural highlight of the art center.
The east urban area:
In addition to residential areas, there are also many seaside resorts here. The ancient burial ground of Mustafa Kāmil and the Royal Jewel Museum as well as upscale hotels are also located here.
In the easternmost district of Alexandria are the residential areas Sīdī, en-Nasr City, Sīdī Bischr Qiblī and Abū Bakr eṣ-Ṣadiq. Here, too, you can find many upscale hotels.
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Shopping / dining and nightlife in Alexandria
Egypt is generally the center for historically important buildings. What many forget, however, is that in Egypt, especially in the big cities, there is a wide range of shopping opportunities, bars and restaurants.
So if you want to take a trip to Alexandria, you can now get all the information about the most important shopping centers, the best restaurants and bars in town.
Shopping in Alexandria
The main shopping centers are in the city of Alexandria
- Carrefour City Center: It is located near El Nozha Airport and here you will find supermarkets, cinemas and restaurants that are open until midnight every day.
- Emperial Plaza Mall: It is located near a public and a private hospital and the Emperial Plaza Mall is also a shopping center where you can shop as you please and feast in the restaurants.
- Green Plaza:It is located just behind the Hilton Hotel and houses a number of cinemas!
- San Stefano Grand Plaza Mall: The San Stefano Grand Plaza Mall is right next to the Four Seasons Hotel and it is the largest and most luxurious mall in Alexandria.
- Zahran City Mall: The Zahran City Mall has a cinema and a cafeteria and is of course also great for shopping in designer stores.
Eating out in Alexandria
In addition to great hotels and shopping centers, Alexandria also has a large selection of fish restaurants. Due to the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, fresh fish is guaranteed and in the restaurants the fish are even presented lying on ice so that you can choose your own fish directly.
Of course, Alexandria also has the best restaurants in the city center, although the high-priced ones can be found in hotels and also in shopping malls.
In addition to fish, Greek, French and Mediterranean cuisine is also served, especially in traditional restaurants. Nevertheless, the simple restaurants are also recommended. The best known are the Mohammed Ahmed (Ful) in the city center and the Kushari Bondok (Kosheri) in the Smouha.
Nightlife in Alexandria
In addition to the museums, there are a few theaters and numerous cinemas in Alexandria, which can be found in the center of the city. An opera house, the Sayed Darwish Theater, is the most important theater in the city and of course there is also a cineplex here, which is equipped with 10 halls and also 3D projectors.
Outside of hotels, there are few bars in and around Alexandria in the region. The most important bars can be found in the Four Seasons Hotel, the Cecil Hotel, the San Giovanni, the Sheraton Montazah Hotel, the Romance Alexandria Corniche and the Wl Salamlek Palace Hotel.
The sights of Alexandria
The most important sights in Alexandria are the Greco-Roman Museum of Alexandria, the so-called Obelisk of Cleopatra within the old city walls, the Abul Abbas Mosque and the Fort of Sultan Kait Bey at the port, from which one has a wonderful view of Alexandria. Recently, Mediterranean Alexandria has another significant highlight: the reopening of the library with the oldest scrolls and parchments in the world, but more on that later!
In order to be able to delve into the sights of this beautiful city in more detail, it is important to have more information about the formation of Alexandria. In ancient times, the city center with the royal quarter, palaces and public buildings was located directly at the port. These palace buildings were expanded by the Ptolemies and turned into stately buildings with parks. Theaters emerged in the Roman era, including the Timoneion, which even protruded a little into the sea.
Among the main monuments of the city belong
The Qāitbāy Citadel in the el-Gumruk district. It was built in 1477 by the Mamluk Sultan El-Ashraf Saif ed- -Dīn Qāitbāy on the site of the ancient lighthouse as protection from attacking seafarers. In 1480 it was expanded to include the fortress walls, in which prisoners were housed.
It was later destroyed but rebuilt twice. There is also a mosque in this fortress. Outside the fortress is the Oceanographic Museum.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was rebuilt. Located on the Corniche, it was built roughly on the same spot as the ancient library. You get to see a lot. There is an archaeological museum with a Greek floor mosaic, a manuscript museum and the Sadat museum in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Kom ed-Dikka is an archaeological site in the city center. Here you can see a Roman theater, cisterns, baths and houses on an area of 40,000 m².
In Karmūz in the West district, you will find the Archaeological Park with the Pompey Column and the Serapeum, the animal galleries. The 25 m high column is quite simple, but it is one of the most photographed monuments in the entire Alexandria region. It was built in 297 AD in honor of Emperor Diocletian and around it are some sculptures of sphinxes and a scarab.
The Kom ash-Shuqafa catacombs are located near the Pompey Column. They are the largest Roman burial site and were once built as the private grave of a wealthy family. Later they were continued as a public cemetery. A spiral staircase leads to the original burial chapel, where numerous tombs can be seen on three levels. An open-air exhibition with various building fragments, sarcophagi, an Islamic tombstone, the grave from Stagni (Wardian) and the famous Tigran grave can be found on the surface.
The cemetery of Shatbi and the Mustafa Kamil necropolis can be found in the eastern city center. The Anfuschi burial ground is located on the headland of el-Gumruk in a north-westerly direction.
The main museums are
- The National Museum Alexandria is located west of the Shalalat Gardens in the center of the city. Around 1,800 works of art are exhibited here on several levels. In addition to Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic exhibits, there are also statues that were found during recent underwater expeditions.
- The Greco-Roman Museum can be found in the city center and was closed for renovation work for a long time. In addition to the exhibits from the time 300 BC. Until 300 ADYou can also marvel at the temple of Batn Iḥrīt (Theadelphia) from the Faiyūm, which was rebuilt in the courtyard.
- The Archaeological Museum In the Bibliotheca Alexandrina there are mainly pieces from the Greco-Roman, Christian and Islamic periods. The two valuable floor mosaics are certainly among the highlights of the museum.
- The Museum of the Jewels of the Royal Familyis located in the palace of Princess Fatima el-Zahra in the East district. Here you will find, as the name suggests, the jewels, but no coronation insignia and photography is also prohibited here.
The most beautiful mosques
- The mosque of el-Abbas el-Mursi is located in El-Gumruk, as is the Tirbana Mosque.
- In the city center there is the El Qayid Ibrahim Mosque and the El Attarain Mosque, which is one of the oldest. It was built from a church dedicated to St. Athanasius. Although this mosque was in the 19th century. completely destroyed, but a new mosque of the same name was built on the same site.
Beautiful and famous churches
South of Tahrir Square is the Greek Orthodox Cathedral Evangelismos, the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Saba and the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Mark are in the center of Alexandria.
Climate in the Alexandria region
In the Alexandria region there is a narrow, steppe-like strip of land between the Mediterranean and desert climates. In January it has temperatures between 9 ° and 19 ° C. In July the temperatures are between 22 ° and 31 ° C. Due to the proximity to the sea, these temperature fluctuations are moderate and on a few days between October and April there are 190 mm of precipitation . The humidity is between 60 and 70 percent, although the wind that comes from the Mediterranean can sometimes be very violent. In the spring a hot, dry desert wind, the Chamsin, blows, which sometimes brings with it dense sand clouds from the south.
If you have got a taste for it and want to spend a vacation in Egypt, you can find everything here about the various excursions to Alexandria or Cairo. Starting with the varied bus trips or of course the comfortable domestic flights - Alexandria is definitely a metropolis in Egypt and worth a trip!
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