Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city in Egypt. During the Hellenistic period, it was home to a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as well as a storied library. Today the library is reincarnated in the disc-shaped, ultramodern Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The city also has Greco-Roman landmarks, old-world cafes and sandy beaches. Its 15th-century seafront Qaitbay Citadel is now a museum. Weather: 13°C,/ Wind S at 13 km/h, 65% Humidity /Postal code: 21500 /Population: 5.2 million
Top Ten Things to See and Do in Alexandria
The ancient library founded by Alexander the Great is gone but this shows how amazing it might have been. It’s a truly beautiful building with a vision to unite nations through sharing knowledge digitally. But it’s a much more than a big library: there are art galleries, several museums, a planetarium and lots of exhibitions. I discover something new every time I visit.
Fort Qaitbay is on the site of the Pharos Lighthouse – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – and you can still see some of its stones in the walls. It’s a good destination for a seafront stroll with an ice cream from Makram or Azza. Beside it is the great El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque, with the tomb of the great Sufi saint.
3.Royal Jewellery Museum
This former villa of the Egyptian royal family is a magnificent building in itself, with ceiling murals and stained glass windows. Then you come to the jewels and other treasures, such as clocks and watches, displayed in well-labeled cases. There are also thousands of Roman, Byzantine, Persian and Coptic coins.
You need a scuba tank to see these ruins, sunk by an earthquake 1,400 years ago. Depths are around ten metres, so even novice divers like me can try it. What an experience to watch ancient roads, plazas, sphinxes and columns looming out of the murky waters. There are big plans for a viewing tunnel to let non-divers enjoy the sight.
5.Alexandria National Museum
If you prefer your seabed treasures on dry land, there are many here. The museum is in an Italian-style palace, built for a wealthy merchant but now completely refurbished and modernized. You walk through Egypt’s Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras as you go from floor to floor. It also has an open-air theatre for evening shows.
Like many Mediterranean peoples, we love our food and drink here and you can find carts and vendors everywhere. I love treats such as candyfloss, lupine beans, or sweet potatoes (great winter food). Juices include sugar cane, tamarind, carob, licorice and sobia – a mix of powdered rice with coconut milk that’s really popular during Ramadan. On the beach, try fresca: caramelized nuts between honey wafers
Many visitors are drawn to grand cafés such as Trianon, Baudrot or Athineos that trade on memories of the Alexandria described by poets E.M. Forster and Constantin Cavafy (whose apartment in El Atareen is now a museum). I prefer the present in modern cafes such as Brew and Chew (El-Horeya Rd, try the chocolate soup), or Latino (Cairo Alex Desert Rd) for fresh zalabia with hot chocolate.
This is a maze of shops selling tea, spices, quirky antiques and handmade furniture. No matter how often I go, there always seems to be something I’ve never seen before, and the shopkeepers always have time for a chat. Beside it is the ancient Attarine Mosque, which has one of Egypt’s most unusual minarets and a beautiful ceiling.
9.Montazah Palace Gardens
The former summer home of the Egyptian royal family has 150 hectares of lush gardens now open to the public. It’s a great place to escape the summer heat amid flowerbeds shaded by massive date palms and other greenery. The park runs down to Montazah Beach and is good for family picnics or sunset strolls.
The evening walk is a tradition here and you can’t find better views of the sun sinking over the Mediterranean than from this bridge. Walk along the Corniche, amid the kids running around and old guys playing backgammon, then find a café to watch the shimmering lights before heading off to Minouche for a great Italian pizza.