Founded by Alexander the Great in c.331 BCE, Alexandria grew to be one of the most important cities in the ancient Mediterranean, as well as the capital of Egypt; a position it proudly held for around a thousand years. Its status was lost with the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641CE, when a new capital was created at Fustat, which was later to become part of Cairo.
Today, Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest city, one of its three leading sea ports (along with Port Said and Suez), a major commercial, tourism, and transportation centre, and harbours an extremely important industrial area, producing necessities such as: processed food; cotton textiles; paper; plastics; refined petroleum, and asphalt.
Modern Alexandria extends along the Mediterranean for 20 miles (32 kilometres) and is divided into six districts, Al Montazah; Shark (Eastern Alexandria); Wassat (Central Alexandria); Al Amriya; Agamy (Western Alexandria); and Al Gomrok, with a population of approximately 4.1 million. It also has 2 cities under the jurisdiction of its own governorate, Borg Al Arab city, and New Borg Al Arab city, which help form metropolitan Alexandria.
Though Alexandria is relatively easy to gain access to, it has major highways connecting it to Cairo, Port Said, and the Northern coast towns; a modern railway line connecting it to Marsa Matruh and Cairo; 2 airports (Alexandria International Airport and Borg Al Arab Airport); and 4 harbours (the Western Harbour, which handles about 60% of the country’s exports and imports; El Dekhiela Harbour, to the west of the Western Harbour; the Eastern Harbour which is primarily used for fishing and yachting; and Abu Qir Harbour to the north east), it does not get the opportunity to reflect on its magnificent history, being ignored by many tourists to Egypt in favour of the classical Nile Valley sites or Red Sea resorts.
Sites to see:
Alexandria National Museum
Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
Citadel of Qaitbay
Greco-Roman Museum (re-opens in 2015)
Library of Alexandria/Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Montazah Palace Gardens
Museum of Fine Arts
Pharos of Alexandria
Pompey's Pillar and Serapeum
Royal Jewellery Museum