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Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria beach library of Alexandria
Stanley beach in Alexandria Library of Alexandria

 

Alexandria better known as the mermaid of the Mediterranean, is the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo. In fact it is considered to be the second Capital of Egypt. Alexandria was built during the rule of the Greek emperor Alexander the Great who seek to immortalize his name through this city. The Greek architect Dinocrates built Alexandria on the site of the old village Rhakotis 331 BC. Later Alexandria flourished to be a prominent cultural, political and economic metropolis. It was the renowned capital of the Ptolemies with monuments many of which remain to be a witness to a great civilization. Alexandria (31.09N 29.53E ) is located at the north of Egypt. Its geographic location enabled it to be one the most important ports in Egypt with more than 50% share of Egypt's sea trade.

Today Alexandria is witnessing one of brightest days of its history with the the work being done to revive the city to be as it was once called the mermaid of the Mediterranean. 

Although the number of historical sites are limited in Alexandria compared to Cairo or Luxor for example it is considered the most attractive city in Egypt for its moderate weather, long beached of white sand and blue water, beautiful buildings and friendly people.

When you visit Alexandria don't forget to go to the following places :

  • Greco-Roman museum : which is the main museum in Alexandria, built in 1887 and has large collection of exhibits from the Greco-Roman era.
  • The Roman theatre : in Kom El Dekka is one of the important sites in Alexandria which was reserved for thousands of years. Today musical and ballet shows are held in the Roman theatre to attract Egyptians to this great monument.
  • The fort of Qayetbay  : which was built in 1480 on the ruins of the Alexandria Lighthouse to repel raiders from the Mediterranean. The medieval-style Fort was named after the Mamelouk Sultan Qaitbay, and is considered one of Alexandria's landmarks.
  • Al-Haramlek palace in Montazah : Built on a low plateau east of Alexandria and overlooking the beach amid about 370 feddans of gardens , Montazah comprises a number of buildings, the most important being Al-Haramlek and Al-Salamlek (now an upscale restaurant). Formerly the official summer residence of Egypt's King, Al-Haramlek is now a presidential palace. Its unique architecture combines Islamic, and European elements.
Hantor or a horse carriage still in Alexandria but only for fun The famous Cecil hotel in Saad Zaghloul (Raml station) square

Among other modern places to see in Alexandria today are the following :

  • The corniche : It is one of two main roads in Alexandria stretching alongside the long beaches of the city, it was paved in the 19th century and expanded throughout the years. It has been widened recently to absorb the increasing number of vehicles. You can have a walk on the corniche to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful view of the sea especially during sunrise or sunset. Many people practice jogging on the especially paved sideway on the seaside lighthouse shaped wall.
  • Stanley bridge : Built over the Stanley bay  to be one way road as part of the expansion of the corniche. It was inspired by the Montazah Palace with its Islamic style four towers at both ends of the bridge. Many people walk on the bridge to enjoy the view of the sea and the bay. You can also enjoy the beach under the bridge which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Alexandria.
  • Saad Zaghloul square : Also known as Raml Station, it is the city's downtown square . Cleopatra's needles once stood here. The statue of the Twentieth Century leader celebrates Saad Zaghloul's successful attempt to unify the Egyptian people in 1919 against the British. The renovated historic Cecil Hotel is one of the main buildings built early in the 20th century.
  • Al Manshia square : Located at the old Turkish Quarter, Mansheya or Al Tahrir is Alexandria's main square. Recently renovated, the Square features a statue of Mohamed Ali, Egypt's viceroy in the early 18th Century. The courthouse or Al Haqania building is one of the 19th century buildings that stands a witness to a great civilization that considered art an essential part of architectural design.
Towers of the Stanley bridge, similar in design to the towers of the Montazah palace Greco-Roman style columns in Mostafa Kamel square

Tips for you when you visit Alexandria :

  1. The best time to be in Alexandria is the summer because the weather is fine and you can enjoy the beach or walking/jogging on the corniche. 
  2. When you walk during the day don't forget to wear a cap or a hat as a precaution of the sun although it is not hot as other places in Egypt, but be careful just as well.
  3. If you visit Alexandria in winter, don't forget to take an umbrella with you because it might rain. In fact there is a schedule for winter storms you should know it to enjoy your stay. Your travel agent should advise you the times it is supposed to rain to avoid being there when the weather is not good.
  4. If you would like to take a cab to any where in Alexandria better ask at the hotel for the taxi fare because taxi drivers tend to charge foreign passengers more than the fare suggested by the law. You can also enquire from people in the street for the fare if you intend to go to a specific place.
  5. When you buy souvenirs go alone to the shops don't take a local guide he will not help you get a low price as you might expect and visit more than one shop to take a look at the merchandise and to know the local prices and be sure to ask for products made in Egypt because there have been some items imported from the far east countries sold alongside Egyptian hand made souvenirs. If you go alone ask the salesman for the Egyptian products and he will give you a good price. 
  6. Prices of food are low in Egypt and every thing is available so don't take canned food or drinks from your country when you come to Egypt. If you go to any supermarket or local food store you will find what you desire of soft drinks, canned food and even junk food. a tip for you, food items prices are much lower in shops than in hotel.
  7. If you sit at a cafe and smoke a shisha be careful because it is much stronger than cigarette ! exhale a little amount first to know the feeling.
  8. Tip or Baksheesh as Egyptians call it is very common for hotel servants that carry your bags or serving food so be prepared with change of pounds with you.
  9. If you are lost don't be embarrassed  to ask for directions. Better ask at shops because they tend to know the area they work in. Write the name of the hotel on a piece of paper and take it with you in case you don't pronounce it  clearly. Better ask more than one person to be sure.
  10. Learn a few words in Arabic to use when you talk to Egyptians they are friendly people who like to know their language is respected by guests to their country. one the most famous words you should know is "Shoukran" which means "Thank you"

We hope you enjoy your stay in Alexandria and come back many times because we Egyptians like to make you feel at home.

The corniche of Alexandria, don't forget to take a walk or practice jogging early in the morning Sidi Gaber railway station, one of two main railway stations in Alexandria

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