Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. It is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. Alexandria is Egypt's largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt's imports and exports. It is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also an important tourist resort.
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in April 331 BC as Alexandria. Alexander's chief architect for the project was Dinocrates. Alexandria was intended to supersede Naucratis as a Hellenistic center in Egypt, and to be the link between Greece and the rich Nile Valley. An Egyptian city, Rhakotis, already existed on the shore, and later gave its name to Alexandria in the Egyptian language. It continued to exist as the Egyptian quarter of the city. A few months after the foundation, Alexander left Egypt and never returned to his city. After Alexander's departure, his viceroy, Cleomenes, continued the expansion. Following a struggle with the other successors of Alexander, his general Ptolemy succeeded in bringing Alexander's body to Alexandria, though it was eventually lost after being separated from its burial site there.
How to Reach
Since December 2011, Alexandria's main airport is Borg el Arab Airport (IATA: HBE), serving mainly destinations in the Middle-East and North Africa, but also Milano-Bergamo (Air Arabia), Athens (Egypt Air), Istanbul and Beyrouth. It's not very conveniently located some 45 km (23 mi) to the south-west of Alexandria.
Several bus companies offer a bus service into Alexandria at a very low price range: 20-35 LE. Buses are air conditioned and come complete with a hostess trolley service. Companies include Golden Arrow, West Delta, Super Jet, Pullman and El Gouna. Operating times vary from one company to another, but there are trips between Cairo and Alexandria virtually every hour from early morning untill midnight.
From Cairo, frequent trains from Ramses Station are probably the best way to get to Alexandria. Trains run at least once every hour from 6 AM to 10 PM, but try to choose either an express or the pride of Egyptian Railways, the French-built Turbo, which takes only 2 hours 10 minutes for the journey. 1st class AC tickets cost 36-52LE one-way and 2nd class tickets range from 19 to 36LE, depending on the train. Reservation is obligatory in express trains. It's best to buy a ticket the day before at the train station or online from the Egyptian railways website
Places to visit
So named in the middle ages. It is a granite pillar, over 25 metres high, and built amidst the ruins of the Serapuim, in 297 A.D., in honour of Emperor Diocletian.
Built along lines of the old Greek houses, it is comprised of a doorway, a corridor and two chambers, dates back to the 3rd century B.C., and lies north of Saint Mark's College.
The Roman Theatre:
At Kom Al-Dekka, near the Graeco-Roman Museum, this Egypt tourist attraction is considered unique in Egypt for it has 12 semi-circular marble tiers and the theatre is in good condition.
The Tombs of Mustafa Kamel (Rushdy)
These four subterranean rock-hewn tombs, from the 2nd century B.C., are distinguished by their bright colours and relief inscriptions that tell of the daily activities and religious beliefs of the deceased.
The Catacombs of Kom al-Shoqafa
This is the largest Roman cemetery in Egypt. It is a three levels, and cut into the rock to a depth of 100 feet. Dating back to the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., it is a blend of Pharaonic and Roman art.
The Tombs of Al-Anfushi
These five Ptolemic tombs, from the third century B.C., were discovered in 1901 A.D.
The Hydro-Biological Institute and Museum
Located at Al-Anfushi, near Qait Bey fortress, this museum houses a rare collection of fish and marine life.
The Graeco-Roman Museum
Houses many collections of rare Greek and Roman relics and coins - about 40,000 pieces, from the 3rd century B.C. to the 7th century A.D., the most important being the "Tanafra" statues.
The Royal Jewelry Museum
Originally the palace of Fatma al-Zahra'a in Zizinia, it is an architectural masterpiece. Its many rooms and halls contain many rare paintings, statues and decorations, as well as a priceless collection of jewels of the Mohammed Ali Dynasty.
The Museum of Fine Arts
Houses collections of sculptures, paintings, and architectural works. Exhibitions by contemporary foreign and Egyptian artists are often held there. Furthermore, the museum organises the Alexandria Biennial, every two years, to exhibit the arts of the Mediterranean countries.