Located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, Alexandria is Egypt’s leading port and transportation hub. Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, the city was once considered the crossroads of the world. Several of Egypt’s pharaohs, including Cleopatra, ruled the country from Alexandria until the nation fell to Rome in 30 BC Under Roman rule, the city earned a reputation as a center for arts and literature. The city’s Roman Theater, which features stunning mosaic flooring and marble seating, is a remnant of Alexandria’s Roman occupation.
Today’s Alexandria is a dusty seaside city with an over-inflated population of 5 million, that is badly in need of a lick of paint. It’s a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and glimpses of its past. Many of Alexandria’s most famous historic sites, including a library that housed more than 500,000 books, were destroyed by devastating earthquakes in the 14th century. Completed in 2002, a new library stands near the site of the original Library of Alexandria. The collection at the new Bibliotheca includes ancient manuscripts and books donated by countries all over the world. Exhibits of Alexandria’s long history are on display at the Alexandria National Museum. The museum’s more than 1,800 artifacts are arranged chronologically, from the Greco-Roman period to the Coptic and Islamic eras.
In ancient Alexandria, the most prominent feature was the Lighthouse of Alexandria, a towering structure that was considered one the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse crumbled into sea during an earthquake along with much of the ancient metropolis. Scuba divers can still view massive stones and statues lying on the seabed floor. Whether exploring remnants of old city walls in the Shallalat Gardens or relaxing on one of city’s many sandy beaches, visitors will always find something new to experience in the ancient capital city.