Alexandria Mini Guide
The Egyptian city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great but is no longer as grand as it used to be. The second biggest city in Egypt after Cairo
, three and a half million people live in Alexandria which sits on the Mediterranean Sea.
Before Alexandria was captured by the Arabs in 641, it was the capital of Egypt and the Hellenic’s world’s second most important city after Rome
. Over the years Alexandria was involved in many conflicts and during these one of the city’s most impressive monuments was destroyed. The Alexandria library had been the most complete library in the ancient world with texts in many different languages including Hebrew and Greek
Another incredible monument, The Lighthouse of Alexandria used to be the second tallest in the ancient world (after the Pyramids) at 150 metres but this was destroyed by two earthquakes in the 14th century. Alexandria was further damaged during later conflicts between the Egyptians and the French as well as the British. But Alexandria had thrived culturally and commercially during the 1940s and 1950s until Gamal Abdel Nasser the Egyptian nationalist leader expelled all the foreigners from the city. This meant that the huge population of 150,000 Greeks, among others, were forced to leave the city.
Many people choose to go to Alexandria via Cairo, not only because they want to see the Pyramids, but because Cairo is better connected internationally. If you want to fly straight to Alexandria there are two airports, Borg el Arab Airport and the main terminal El Nouzha Airport. You can fly into the latter from Athens
on Olympic Air while the former is accessible from Frankfurt
on Lufthansa and Dubai
in the United Arab Emirates
on Emirates Airlines. Both airports are a little way outside of the city itself so you will want to pick up your Rhino vehicle to make the short drive into the city if that is where you are staying.
If you then decide to drive to Cairo you can take one of two roads. The three lane desert road has a higher speed limit (100 kilometres per hour) and is the quickest option. The two lane agricultural road (90) can get congested but you can get to the city of Tanta this way too. Strolling through Alexandria today you are sure to see some fine examples of Roman and Muslim architecture including citadels, palaces and amphitheatres.
Alexandria is a faded remnant of once the most powerful city in the world. There’s so much of historical importance there, sadly, mostly in ruins. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, stood over 150m tall on the island of Pharos.
The ancient library was once the largest collection of books in the world but now culture is being replaced by the wealth of the oil that is exported from there. Still, hiring a car and driving around the city you can still picture its golden years.