Alexandria retains its historical allure as an enchanting Mediterranean port city even up till today. While here on holiday, check out some of the best things to do, ranging from a trip back in time to ancient Egypt to feasting your eyes on beautiful harbor waters!
1. Visit the Bibliotheca, modeled after the famed Alexandrian Library
The Alexandrian Library was a sight to behold in its prime–all books that reached the coast of Alexandria were kept in its confines and only copies were returned to their original owners. This amassing of literature from all over the world was indeed a great step forward in Man’s progression. However, this golden age came to an end with the burning of the library during Napoleon’s conquest. The loss of the library was indeed a regret for the world when it lost tomes and tomes of knowledge.
In present-day Alexandria, the library has served as an inspiration in the creation of the Bibliotheca. A model after the original wonder, the Bibliotheca too boasts a wide collection of museum exhibits and literature. The exterior of the library resembles a slanted, white disk, a unique piece of architecture that is almost impossible to miss. For such an iconic building, it is indeed a must-see for visitors heading to Alexandria!
Address: Al Azaritah WA Ash Shatebi, Qesm Bab Sharqi, 21526 Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Website: Bibliotheca Alexandrina
2. A must-see is the Alexandrian National Museum
The Alexandrian National Museum is a great introduction to the intricate history of its namesake and Egypt in general. Currently, the museum houses close to a whopping 2,000 artifacts that narrate the story of Alexandria and Egypt. These artifacts mainly focus on three collections: ancient Egyptian, Coptic, and the Muslim world, showing the progression of Egyptian political and cultural mood. A piece not to be missed, the museum recently exhibited a sculpture which is believed to be of Alexander the Great.
The architecture of the museum is also an interesting point. All exhibits and collections are housed in the old Al-Saad Bassili Pasha Palace, whose owner was one of the wealthiest wood merchants in Alexandria during his lifetime. This palace was a gathering place for the upper-class people of Egyptian society in Alexandria, demonstrating a place of culture and status. Do check out one of the finest museums in Egypt!
Alexandrian National Museum
Address: 131 El-Shaheed Galal El-Desouky, Bab Sharqi WA Wabour Al Meyah, Qesm Bab Sharqi, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Website: Alexandrian National Museum
3. Experience royalty life by visiting the Montazah Palace Gardens
Built in 1892 by Khedive Abbas II, the last Muhammad Ali Dynasty ruler, the palace is a symbol of royalty and lavishness. Its main goal was to hold the Khedive title over the Khedivate of Egypt and Sudan and was also used as a hunting lodge and residence for his companion. Thereby, the sheer luxury in the palace is clearly present. Today, the former expansive royal gardens of the palace are open as a public landscape park and forest reserve. The sight of the gardens is simply stunning with clear blue skies and the sparkling Mediterranean sea. Feel free to play in the sandy cove with your children.
Montazah Palace Gardens
Address: Al Mandarah Bahri, Qism El-Montaza, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
4. Visit Fort Qaitbey which sits at the site of the mighty Pharos Lighthouse
Historically one of the most important defensive strongholds in Egypt and along the Mediterranean Sea coast, the Fort of Qaitbey was an essential chess piece in the security of Alexandria. The fort sits at the entrance of the harbor on the Pharos Island, where it replaced the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Despite being finally annihilated in a devastating earthquake, remnants of the red brick used in the construction of the lighthouse still remain–a nostalgic reminder of how magnificent it would have looked in its prime time. Nonetheless, the fort is still a sight to feast your eyes on. We recommend strolling to Fort Qaitbey along the Corniche, giving you unforgettable views of the Mediterranean sea.
Address: As Sayalah Sharq, Qesm Al Gomrok, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Website: Fort Qaitbey
5. Explore the ruins of a Roman theatre alongside a Ptolemic temple
Named Kom el-Dikka, the ruins of a Roman theatrical and residential complex lay next to a Ptolemic temple (only discovered in 2010), displaying the crossroads of time in Egypt’s history. The complex contains the only known Roman amphitheater in Egypt and remains extremely well-preserved. Constructed in the traditional Greek style, with a stage on the lowest level and raised rows as audience seats, these iconic ruins are not to be missed. If you look very closely, the remnants of Roman numerals are chiseled into each row of seats. Still-ongoing excavations at the site have uncovered Roman baths, lecture halls, and a small village, and a large house filled with beautiful mosaics, making the Kom El Dikka a very much alive attraction. At the site, there is also a small outdoor exhibition of underwater Pharaonic and Greco-Roman era objects in the nearby harbor.
Kom El Dikka
Address: Ismail Mahana, Kom Ad Dakah Gharb, Qesm Al Attarin, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
6. See the iconic mummies of Egypt in the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
Translating loosely into Mound of Shards, Kom El Shoqafa was one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages! The name comes from heaps of broken pottery in the area. Archaeologists believe that these were left in ancient times by relatives who would visit the tomb bringing food and drink with them. Not wanting to bring back something associated with the dead, they would smash them into pieces.
The catacombs themselves are a unique blend of Roman, Greek and Pharaonic influences, demonstrating the rich heritage of Alexandria. Many of the tombs and catacombs in Kom El Shoqafa would merge Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultural points. For instance, some statues are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hairstyles. Notably, the catacombs also house the Hall of Caracalla, which contains the bones of young Christian men massacred by order of Emperor Caracalla.
Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
Address: Kom Al Shokafa, Al Karah WA at Toubageyah WA Kafr Al Ghates, Qesm Karmouz, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
7. Admire the harbor waters of Ras el-Tin Palace
Ras-El Tin is amazingly the oldest royal palace still in use up till today and has served formidable guests such as the President of Egypt and the Muhammad Ali dynasty of Egypt and Sudan. Resembling a large Italian Renaissance Palace, Ras El-Tin is also surrounded by magnificent gardens of fig trees, giving it its name “Cape Fig Palace”. Although currently not open to visitors, the palace is still a sight to view from the outside. Snap some pictures of the amazing architecture and revel in the rich history of the place.
Ras el-Tin Palace
Address: Ad Daerah Al Gomrokeyah, Shortet Al Mina, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
8. Visit an iconic location of Alexandria, the wide waterfront road of Corniche
An enchanting waterfront promenade in Alexandria, the Corniche is a sight to behold. One is reminded of the elegance of 19th and 20th century Egypt where Alexandria was a melting pot of cultures. Numerous artifacts and historical buildings are situated along the Corniche, aforementioned to be Fort Qaitbey, Bibliotheca and Montazah Palace. The Corniche is as much as a symbol of Alexandria as any other attraction and is one you cannot miss. The photos of the Corniche speak for themselves, attesting to the beauty of the city.
Address: Sidi Beshr Bahri, Qism El-Montaza, 21611 Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Be sure to check out these magnificent attractions in Alexandria
Alexandria has always been a bustling maritime port from Pharaonic times till today. Her unique blend of culture, gorgeous waterfront and rich history certainly makes her an unforgettable city. These attractions are simply a must-visit as a homage to Alexandria’s historic glory and the wonders of the ancient world.
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