Alexandria, the pearl of the Mediterranean, is a city that breathes history at every corner. Once the intellectual and cultural heart of the ancient world, Alexandria, Egypt, is a port city with a rich tapestry of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian influences.
From the ancient ruins echoing tales of antiquity to the bustling souk district, the city offers a unique blend of the old and the new.
This famed city, nestled by the Mediterranean Sea, invites you to lose yourself in its labyrinth of history, culture, and exquisite beauty.
The Historical Sites: A Peek into the Past
Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
One of the first stops on your journey through Alexandria should be the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa. This ancient necropolis, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, is a fascinating place to visit in Alexandria.
The catacombs, a sepulchral chapel adorned with Egyptian art and Greco-Roman styles, are a testament to the city’s vast history and cultural fusion. A spiral staircase leads you down into the stone-walled chambers, where you can marvel at the intricate carvings and statues that tell stories of ancient times.
A short distance away from the catacombs stands Pompey’s Pillar, a Roman triumphal column. This monument, standing proud against the skyline, was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
It’s a testament to the city’s resilience, having withstood the ravages of time and nature. The pillar, standing amidst the ancient ruins, is a reminder of the city’s grandeur during the Roman era.
Kom El Dikka
Not far from Pompey’s Pillar, you’ll find Kom El Dikka, a Roman-era archaeological site. This ancient city, once an upscale residential area, now houses the only Roman amphitheater in Egypt. The amphitheater, with its marble terraces and ornate carvings, is a stark contrast to the modern cityscape. Walking through the ancient walls of Kom El Dikka, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
Alexandria National Museum
The Alexandria National Museum, housed in a restored Italianate mansion, is a treasure trove of artifacts. The museum showcases the city’s history, from the Pharaonic era to recent history.
The ground floor is dedicated to the ancient world, with exhibits spanning from the Pharaonic, Greek, and Roman periods. The upper floors delve into the more recent history, featuring artifacts from the Coptic and Islamic eras, as well as the modern period.
The Palaces: Echoes of Royal Elegance
The Montazah Palace, once the summer residence of the Egyptian royal family, is a testament to the opulence of the past. The palace, with its ornate Florentine-inspired towers and exquisite gardens, is a sight to behold.
The Montaza Palace complex, which also includes a small museum, offers a glimpse into the life of King Farouk, the last ruler of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. The gardens, with their lush greenery and vibrant flowers, provide a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Ras El Tin Palace
Another royal gem in the city is the Ras El Tin Palace. This grand palace, located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, was the official residence of the Egyptian royal family until the 1952 revolution. The palace, with its vast halls and intricate designs, is a testament to the grandeur of the past. From the palace, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Fort: A Sentinel from the Past
Fort Qaitbey, standing sentinel at the eastern harbour, is one of the iconic landmarks of Alexandria. The fort, built on the site of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse, is a symbol of the city’s resilience.
The Qaitbay Citadel, with its robust stone structure and strategic location, offers a panoramic view of the city and the sea. The fort also houses a small museum, showcasing artifacts from the sea and the city’s history.
The Streets: A Taste of the City
A stroll along the Alexandria Corniche, the city’s waterfront promenade, is a must-do when you visit Alexandria. The Corniche, stretching along the Mediterranean Sea, offers stunning views of the city and the sea.
The promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants, is a great place to sample the city’s street food and soak in the local culture.
The Souk District, the city’s bustling marketplace, is a sensory overload. The souk, with its narrow alleys and vibrant stalls, offers a glimpse into the city’s vibrant commercial life. From spices and textiles to jewelry and antiques, the souk has something for everyone.
The Libraries: Repositories of Knowledge
The Ancient Library
The Ancient Library of Alexandria, once the largest library in the ancient world, was a beacon of knowledge and learning. The library, which stored manuscripts from all over the known world, was destroyed in antiquity. However, the spirit of the library lives on in the city’s commitment to knowledge and learning.
The New Library
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a homage to the ancient library, is a marvel of modern architecture. The library, with its sleek design and vast collection, is a cultural hub in the city. The library, much like its ancient predecessor, is a repository of knowledge and a center for learning and dialogue.
The Underwater World: A Dive into History
For the adventurous, a scuba diving expedition to Cleopatra’s Palace, submerged in the waters of the Eastern Harbour, is a must. The underwater ruins, remnants of ancient Alexandria, offer a unique perspective on the city’s history.
The palace, believed to have been the residence of Cleopatra, is a testament to the city’s grandeur in ancient times.
The Hotels: A Touch of Elegance
Steigenberger Cecil Hotel
The Steigenberger Cecil Hotel, a historic hotel in the heart of the city, offers a blend of luxury and history. The hotel, once frequented by Winston Churchill and the British Secret Service, offers a glimpse into the city’s recent history.
With its elegant decor and top-notch service, the Cecil Hotel is a great place to unwind after a day of exploring the city.
The Gardens: A Breath of Fresh Air
The Montaza Gardens, surrounding the Montaza Palace, are a haven of tranquility. These exquisite gardens, with their lush greenery and vibrant flowers, provide a great escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The gardens, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, are a great place to unwind and soak in the beauty of nature.
Antoniades Park, located in the heart of the city, is a testament to Alexandria’s commitment to green spaces. The park, with its vast lawns and ornate fountains, is a great place to relax and enjoy the city’s pleasant weather. The park also houses a small museum, showcasing artifacts from the city’s history.
The Mosques: A Glimpse into the Spiritual Life
Abbas Al Mursi Mosque
The Abbas Al Mursi Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Alexandria, is a testament to the city’s rich Islamic heritage. The mosque, named after the Andalusian Sufi saint Abbas Al Mursi, is a spiritual hub in the city.
The mosque, with its intricate carvings and serene ambience, is a place of peace and tranquility.
El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque
The El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque, located near the city’s eastern harbour, is another important religious site in Alexandria. The mosque, with its towering minaret and vast prayer hall, is a beacon of Islamic architecture.
The mosque, much like the city itself, is a blend of the old and the new.
The Beaches: A Splash of Fun
A visit to Alexandria, Egypt, would be incomplete without a trip to the beach. The Mamoura Beach, located in the eastern part of the city, is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The beach, with its golden sands and clear waters, is a great place to relax and soak in the sun.
Stanley Beach, another popular beach in Alexandria, is known for its vibrant atmosphere. The beach, with its bustling promenade and numerous cafes, is a great place to enjoy the city’s vibrant beach culture.
The beach also offers stunning views of the Stanley Bridge, a popular landmark in the city.
The Markets: A Shopping Extravaganza
Tariq Al Horreya Street
Tariq Al Horreya Street, one of the main shopping streets in Alexandria, is a shopper’s paradise. The street, lined with shops and boutiques, offers a wide range of goods, from clothing and accessories to antiques and souvenirs. The street, with its bustling atmosphere and vibrant stalls, is a great place to shop and soak in the local culture.
The Royal Jewelry Museum
The Royal Jewelry Museum, located in the former palace of Princess Fatima Al-Zahra, is a treasure trove of jewels and precious artifacts. The museum, with its vast collection of jewels, watches, medals, and gifts received by the Egyptian royal family, is a testament to the opulence of the past. The museum also houses a small collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, offering a glimpse into the country’s ancient history.
The Restaurants: A Culinary Delight
For food lovers, a visit to the Fish Market is a must. This popular restaurant, located near the eastern harbour, offers a wide range of seafood dishes. The restaurant, with its fresh catch of the day and vibrant atmosphere, is a great place to sample the city’s culinary delights.
The Greek Club, another popular restaurant in Alexandria, offers a blend of Greek and Egyptian cuisines. The restaurant, with its stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the city’s skyline, is a great place to enjoy a meal and soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
The Lighthouse: A Beacon from the Past
The Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood tall on the eastern harbour of Alexandria. Although the lighthouse no longer exists, its legacy lives on in the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. The site of the lighthouse, now occupied by Fort Qaitbey, offers stunning views of the city and the sea.
Alexandria, Egypt, is a city that straddles the past and the present.
From the ancient ruins and historical sites to the vibrant streets and modern architecture, the city offers a unique blend of history and culture.
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an adventurer, Alexandria has something to offer.
So pack your bags and set off on a journey through time in this fascinating city.
FAQ about What To Do In Alexandria
What is Alexandria, Virginia famous for?
Alexandria, Virginia, is renowned for its deep-rooted colonial past, being the home city of George Washington. It boasts attractions like Christ Church and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, frequented by America’s founding fathers.
Which is the most well-known street in Alexandria, VA?
King Street stands out as the most recognized street in Alexandria, Virginia, bustling with shops, eateries, and historic landmarks.
Is it worth planning a trip to Alexandria, VA?
Absolutely! Alexandria, Virginia, is a city steeped in history and natural beauty, making it a must-visit for history buffs and nature enthusiasts. It also serves as a delightful respite from the fast-paced life of Washington DC.
What makes Alexandria, VA unique?
Alexandria, Virginia, is distinguished by its rich colonial history, being the city where George Washington resided and where pivotal events in American history unfolded.
Can you share three interesting facts about Alexandria?
Alexandria is known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Library, which was the largest in the ancient world, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.
What sets Alexandria apart from other cities?
Alexandria was home to the world’s largest Jewish community in its time and the first Greek translation of the Hebrew holy Book, the Septuagint. This cultural diversity and intellectual richness set it apart.
What is intriguing about Alexandria?
Known as the “Bride of the Mediterranean,” Alexandria is Egypt’s second-largest city and a significant economic hub. It’s also the largest city on the Mediterranean and the ninth-largest in Africa.
Can you provide a brief overview of Alexandria?
Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city and largest seaport, is an ancient city that lies approximately 225 kilometers northwest of Cairo. It is a hub of maritime activity and one of Egypt’s oldest cities.
What makes Alexandria a special destination?
Alexandria is a living museum of the Greco-Roman era, filled with remarkable ruins, old-world cafes, sandy beaches, the 15th-century seafront Qaitbay Citadel, the legendary catacombs, and other captivating monuments.
Which is a better place to stay, Arlington or Alexandria?
While both have their merits, Alexandria offers affordable housing options, less traffic, and pedestrian-friendly streets, making it a great choice. However, if you prioritize public safety, major attractions, and high-paying job opportunities, Arlington might be a better fit.
How can one spend a day in Old Town Alexandria?
A day in Old Town Alexandria can be filled with walking tours, a visit to the Carlyle House, shopping at local stores on King Street, a visit to The Spite House, and a trip to the historic Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
Where can one find cobblestone streets in Alexandria, Virginia?
Cobblestone streets in Alexandria, Virginia, can be found on Prince Street near Lee St. and Princess Street at Washington St.
What is Alexandria best known for?
Alexandria is globally recognized for the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Library, the largest in the ancient world, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.
Who established Alexandria, VA?
Alexandria, Virginia, was established by Scottish merchants in 1749.
Is Alexandria, Virginia, worth a visit?
Yes, it is! Alexandria, Virginia, is a city rich in history and natural beauty. It’s an ideal destination for history lovers and nature enthusiasts, and also serves as a refreshing break from Washington DC.
What is unique about Alexandria, Virginia?
Alexandria, Virginia, is known for its rich colonial heritage as George Washington’s hometown, and includes attractions that America’s founding fathers frequented, such as Christ Church and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
Is Alexandria, Virginia, a good place to reside?
Yes, Alexandria, Virginia, is a great place to live. It offers an urban feel with numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Most residents rent their homes, and it’s considered one of the best places to live in Virginia.
Why should one visit Alexandria, Virginia?
Alexandria, Virginia, situated on the Potomac River and within sight of Washington, D.C., is nationally recognized for its rich history and beautifully preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture – a testament to its historical significance.