Alexandria is the second most populated city in Egypt, and it is often referred to as the Shining Pearl of the Mediterranean. Although it is situated only about 140 miles from Cairo, this charming city is notably different from the other parts of Egypt because it has a Mediterranean atmosphere and culture. Its great natural beauty and rich cultural and historical heritage make it one of the most preferred travel destinations in the country.
The History of Alexandria, Egypt
Alexandria was founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great. Alexander wanted the city to replace Naucratis as the Hellenistic capital of Egypt, and serve as a link between the Nile Valley and Greece. Soon, it grew to become the new commercial center between Europe and the Middle East, and it had a larger population than Carthage. In just a century after its founding, it became the most populous city in the world. It gained recognition as the main Hellenistic city in Egypt, and it attracted many people from mainland Greece.
In 80 B.C., Alexandria came under Roman jurisdiction. Later on, a civil war broke out between ruler Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII, and Julius Caesar resolved the conflict by taking control of the city in 47 B.C. In August, 30 B.C., future Roman Emperor Augustus captured the city, and he commemorated his victory by naming the month of his conquest August. Civil wars between the Greeks and the Jews in 115 A.D. destroyed a large part of the city, and Hadrain took the responsibility to reconstruct the city. The city fell into the hands of the Sassanid Persians in 619, but was recovered by the Byzantines a decade later. Nonetheless, it was captured by the Arabs in 641.
In 1798, Napoleons troops invaded Alexandria, and they were in control of the city for more than two years. The city came under British rule in 1801, when British troops defeated the French army in the Battle of Alexandria. The Ottoman Governor of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, started to rebuild Alexandria in 1810, and four decades later, the city had almost returned to its past glory. In 1882, it suffered considerable damage after it was bombarded by the British naval forces, and it was also occupied. Today, Alexandria is one of the most affluent cities in Egypt, and it is also a very popular destination for summer vacations.
Alexandria is a wonderful place to visit because it has a wide range of attractions to offer, ranging from beaches to historic sites. It also has modern amenities that make traveling safe, comfortable, and hassle-free. Alexandria has warm and humid summers, with temperatures rising to 88°F, and it can get cold and rainy in winter. Those who are planning to visit the city should do so during spring (March to June) or autumn (September and November), because the city will be very crowded during summer, with many Egyptians going there to escape the summer heat. Also, accommodation and tour rates are usually higher during summer.
Alexandria is also known for its seafood, and it has a wide range of restaurants to suit every taste and budget. For those who wish to try local food, recommended delicacies include the fuul, flafel, fateer, kushari, smouha, shwarma, shish kebab, and others. There are also restaurants that serve Mediterranean and international food. Generally, the locals of Alexandria do not expect to receive tips from customers. It is advisable that tourists drink only bottled water when they are in the city, because tap water in Egypt may not be safe for drinking.
Traveling around Alexandria is easy, because there are many different types of transportation available, including taxi, tram, and bus. Traveling by taxi is the most expensive option, but it should not cost more than 25 Egyptian pounds. Buses and trams dominate the main streets of the city, as well as the suburbs, and they cost 0.50 to 1.50 pounds and 0.25 pounds respectively. One U.S. dollar is equivalent to 5.50 Egyptian pounds. The city also has up-to-date communication amenities available, and tourists can find plenty of Internet cafes.
Alexandria is home to many important historic sites and tourist attractions, and these include the Citadel of Qaitbay, Pompeys Pillar, Montaza Palace, Roman Theater, Alexandria National Museum, the Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa, Saint Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, The Tegran Necropolis, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the Corniche. Some of the activities that tourists can do in the city include sunbathing and swimming at the beach, boating and cruising, visiting casinos, and more.