Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest city and a major economic and political centre. A port city, Alexandria is not only a historically important city in terms of the role it played in preserving much of humanity’s early achievements.
This Cairo Travel Guide was written by Angie Balata, who lived, studied and worked in Cairo for 17 years.
Alexandria is not only a historically important city in terms of the role it played in preserving much of humanity’s early achievements, including the Great Library which housed over 400,000 original works by authors from all different empires and different eras.
But it is also the one of the first truly multi cultural cities where different civilizations encountered one another. Along the streets and in the local culture, one can trace back the impacts of the Greeks, Romans, French, British, Italians, Arabs, Muslims, and Coptics in the architecture, the food, and the local culture(s). Alexandrians are generally known for both their passion for life and for their incredible hospitality.
Use this Alexandria, Egypt Travel Guide to explore the region.
Top Sites to See in Alexandria
Not an overly spectacular historical site, Pompey’s Pillar is more interesting for the site it commemorates. This Roman column is located at the Serapeum, Alexandria’s acropolis dedicated to the only Graeco-Egyptian patron god. With the growing popularity of Christianity, patriarch Theophilus, head of the Alexandria Church, destroyed the Serapeum and all other pagan symbols in 391 A.D. The only thing remaining of this once magnificent and elaborate temple is Pompey’s Pillar.
Citadel of Qaitbay/Greek Club
Photo by Yehya Khaled on Unsplash
Located at the far end of Alexandria, this 15th century fortress, built by great patron of arts and architecture in Egypt and the wider Arab region, the Circassian Sultan Qitbay. The Citadel sits on the remains of one of the seven ancient wonders, the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria. A few steps down the street from the Citadel is the Greek Club, where you should most definitely stop by for a meal and sunset. From the balcony of the club, watch Alexandria’s legendary bay and stunning shoreline, with the many colourful sailing boats docked in the pocket of the bay. Alexandria is a seafood lover’s paradise and there is no such thing as a bad restaurant, but the views from the Greek Club are unparalleled.
Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
This is a historical archaeological site and considered one of the seven wonders of the Middle Ages. This necropolis consists of a series of tombs with Pharaonic, Hellenistic and Roman influences. The catacombs date as far back as 2 A.D. and were discovered accidentally in 1900 when a donkey fell through the ground.
Montaza Palace & Beach
The Montaza Palace is a complex consisting of the palace, the museum extensive gardens, and a beach. Inspired by Turkish and Florentine Renaissance architectures, this splendid palace is one of the most beautiful, offering uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean. While the Palace itself is mostly closed to visitors, the gardens and beach offer a welcome respite amongst the green and the water. Enjoy drinks or a meal at any of the restaurants on the palace grounds.
Alexandria National Museum
Located in the former US Consulate, a renovated villa illustrating the grandeur of Italian architecture in Alexandria, the Alexandria National Museum is where you’ll find the story of Alexandria. With over 1,800 artifacts occupying three levels, the Museum covers the histories of the city’s most prominent occupiers, including the Pharoahs, the Greeks and Romans, the Coptics and the Muslims, and the glories of Egypt’s last monarchy.
Kom El Dikkah & Alexandria Amphitheatre
this once affluent residential area used to be the play area, formerly knonw as Park of Pan dureing the Graeco-Roman times, for the rich. Today, all that remains of that era is the well-preserved Roman amphitheatre.
The Great Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the Ancient world. It is said to have held the equivalent of over 100,000 books. While the original library was lost to fires and centuries of gradual decline, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was introduced as an idea in 1974 and finally opened it’s doors in 2002. The Library is a major cultural space in Alexandria with many music and arts festivals taking place in the space. But, it also includes six specialized libraries and four museums, including a Manuscript museum and an Antiquities Museum.
Abu Al-Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque
Located in the Anfoushi neighbourhood and close to the Citadel of Qaitbay, this 1775 mosque is one of the oldest in the city. Built over the tomb of the great 13th century Spanish Andalusian scholar and Sufi, Abu Al Abbas Al Mursi, and is a major pilgrimage site for Sufis. This spectacular building attracts a carnival-like atmosphere, especially on warm nights, when children’s rides and sellers are set up in the square of the Mosque. Visit the Mosque during the day for the best-uninterrupted tour of its inside.
Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral
This Church was the former seat of the Coptic papacy. The Church is the perfect example of Orthodox architecture.
Alexandria Museum Of Fine Arts
For the art lovers, this Museum houses some of the best collections of modern works by Egyptian artists and a selection of pieces from other eras, including Baroque, Romantic and Orientalist works.