Famous for being called the “Pearl of the Mediterranean,” the captivating Alexandria will fascinate you with its mix of history and modernity. Although very little remains of the old city, Alexandria still retains its Mediterranean ambience and old European residence houses, combined with old cafes and Greco Roman monuments. The Catacombs of Kom-El-Shouqafa, the underwater ruins of Montazah and Maamoura and the city’s vibrant arts scene make Alexandria a great sightseeing destination. Abu-Al-Abas Al-Mursi mosque and the Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark are also sights to behold.
Alexandria, the city created by Alexander the Great in 333BCE and with a history very different from any of the other cities in Egypt. When this famous Macedonian (the Greek state, not the former Yugoslav country) was en route to visit the Oracle Temple of Amun at the Siwa oasis he stopped overnight at the village of “Re-qdt” (its Greek name is “Racotis”) between the Mediterranean Sea and the Lake of Mariott (its location today is the area of Tel Bab Sadrah or Karmouz). Alexander decided that this was to be the spot where a great city would be built and charged one of his architects, Dinocratis, to build it.
The beauty and cosmopolitanism of Alexandria inspired great authors such as the British novelist E.M. Forster, the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy who respectively lived in Alexandria in the early and late 19th century, and Lawrence Durrell who lived and wrote about the city during World War II.
The Alexandrian coastline extends on no less than 70 km, from the north-western side of the Nile delta to Mariout Lake in the east. The coast is dotted with beautiful bays and harbours, such as Abu-Qir and the crescent-shaped Alexandrian Eastern Harbour which is overlooked by the majestic Qaitbay Fortress. The Cornice in Alexandria is a treat during both summer and winter. Starting from Ras El Tin and stretching all the way to Montazah you can enjoy spectacular view of the White Mediterranean. The Cornice was developed in the 1930s and further developments were made to it in the early 1990s.
Beaches stretch along the coast from Maamoura in the east and all the way to the Agamy beach west of Alexandria.
If you have time, do not forget to explore the nearby destinations of Borg El-Arab (where the main airport is located) and Abu-Mina. Both are about 50 km away from the city and home to interesting historical sites (St. Mena Monastery, and the Roman Necropolis in Borg El-Arab) and touristic resorts (the Hilton Borg El-Arab, and Golden Beach).
The temperate Mediterranean climate in Alexandria insures cooler summers and warmer winters than in other parts of Egypt. While winters are mostly rainy with temperatures ranging between 10 and 20°C, summers are renowned for the refreshing sea breeze, with temperatures between 22 and 34°C.
Location of Alexandria:
Alexandria is situated on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, 179Km (111 miles) north of Cairo. It is Egypt’s second largest city, behind Cairo, but is sadly overlooked by tourists. It is accessible by many ways:
Alexandria International Airport or El Nouzha Airport is located 7Km (4 miles) southeast of the city centre. It offers services to domestic destinations within Egypt and cities across the Arab world. EgyptAir is the largest airline at the airport, operating over 50 weekly domestic and regional flights.
The future of El Nouzha was in doubt with the opening of Borg El Arab Airport, however in early 2010 the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation announced major plans to overhaul the airport and its facilities to ensure its future as one of the two commercial airports for Alexandria and Nile Delta region. The airport will be closed to commercial operations by late 2011 for major renovation and all traffic transferred to Borg El Arab Airport, Alexandria’s second airport. The renovation project is expected to cost US$120 million which will include lengthening the main runway (04/22) by an additional 750m and the construction of a new passenger terminal to replace the existing ageing facility. The airport will be closed down for two years to implement the expansion project and development.
Alexandria is the northern terminus for the line which runs through Cairo to Aswan and the service to Cairo is extremely good. Services are also available to Marsa Matruh, via El-Alamein, and Port Said.
Alexandria has a huge road network connecting it with towns to the east, the west, and south towards Cairo, including the myriad of towns in the Delta region. Cairo is reached by 2 main highways: The Desert Road and the Agricultural Road. Both are very busy with the former being 6-8 lanes wide.
Alexandria has a major seaport which is a popular stopping point for ocean going cruises and many visitors experience Egypt by arriving here.
What you Should Visit in & Around Alexandria?
The Catacombs (Kom El Shoqafa)
The Library of Alexandria
The National Museum of Alexandria
The Roman Amphitheatre
Wadi El Natron