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Alexandria: Discover the ancient city on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt

Alexandria - even the name sounds promising: the famous library of Alexandria in Egypt and the lighthouse of Pharos, one of the seven wonders of the world, once stood here. Life takes place on the Corniche (beach promenade).

corniche Alexandria Egypt horse-drawn carriage sunset palm trees
For me the Corniche is the highlight of the city.

The Corniche (seaside promenade) stretches from the new library to Fort Qaitbay with the huge El Morsi Abu El Abbas Mosque as a backdrop. Especially at sunset, this is the place in Alexandria where Egyptian locals stroll, picnic, meet friends, play, roller-skate or just relax with a view of the sea.

The History of Alexandria

The Greek architect Dinocrates built Alexandria in 331 BC. BC on behalf of Alexander the Great. The city in Egypt - once the largest city in the ancient world, where Alexander's name is immortalized - grew rapidly and became an important center of Hellenic civilization, replacing Memphis as the capital of Egypt during the reign of the Ptolemaic pharaohs who succeeded Alexander. It retained this status for almost a millennium, during Roman and Eastern Roman rule until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641 AD, when Fustat (later Cairo) was founded as the new capital.

Click on an image to enlarge it:

Alexandria was primarily known for three buildings:

  1. the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

  2. the Great Library, the largest library of antiquity

  3. and the catacombs of Kom Ash Shuqqafa (there are many different spellings here), one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.

Catacombs of Kom Ash Shuqqafa Alexandria Egypt

While the first two no longer exist, the catacombs of Kom Ash Shuqqafa can still be visited today. This Roman burial site is the largest of its kind in Egypt and was discovered by accident by an unfortunate donkey. The crypts lie 20 meters below street level, and what probably began as a small family tomb grew into a labyrinth of chambers capable of holding more than 300 bodies.

The New Library - Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Bibliotheca Alexandrina Alexandria Egypt

A highlight of the city is the strikingly modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, that of the original large library of Alexandria and houses more than 8 million books. The most striking feature is the glass roof that slopes towards the sea. All skylights face north so that direct light never enters the building. The semicircular south facade is decorated with characters from all over the world, which are intended to express the library's claim to collect the world's knowledge. The building has eight floors, four of which are underground. This results in an impressive floor space of 85,000 m².

Worth a visit, even if I would have preferred to see the ancient library ...

But unfortunately it was destroyed by fire... right?

Hundreds of thousands of papyrus scrolls were stored in the great library of Alexandria, which dwarfed all other libraries of the ancient world. Scholars from across the Hellenistic world and beyond researched and taught here in many fields, from medicine to mathematics and literature to astronomy. The library and museum made Alexandria the largest and most important study and research center of its time. Those days are (unfortunately) long gone.

Research now assumes that there was no major fire, but that the library slowly fell into disrepair over time due to a lack of money.

On our tour we also visited the city of El Alamein, which played an important role in World War II. Personally, I wasn't that interested in it.

From Cairo you take the bus for about 5 hours along the desert road to the coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city. On the journey you can see creepy building ruins for miles: high-rise buildings that were started but never finished. Nevertheless, they have blighted the landscape.

My conclusion: I thought Alexandria was nice, but I don't know if I would recommend sitting in the car for 8-10 hours there and back. Personally, I would rather spend the time in the south on the Nile and look at more temples.


Non-stop flights are available from Lufthansa and Egypt Air from about 370 €.


Taking a taxi is safest with Uber. The best thing to do is download the app. This makes it possible to track who picked you up, especially if you order it at the hotel reception.

If you have strong nerves you can, for example, at book a rental car from €140 per week. However, be warned: Cairo is one of the busiest cities in North Africa and is notorious for its traffic congestion and air pollution.

Baba Ganoush Egypt traditional food
Baba Ganoush at Sidra by the Citadel Restaurant


Alexandria is known for its seafood, I am a vegetarian so I can only write what I have been told...

Old Grandeur can be found in the Paradise Inn former Metropol Hotel. Like from another world. Plush sofas, colorful wallpaper, brass, gold - everything glitters and shines in the splendor of the turn of the century. We only had a cocktail here on the roof terrace, but to be honest, the rooms are affordable too. Double rooms with breakfast start at $79, but I recommend a room with a sea view.

Right next to the fort there is the somewhat more upscale restaurant Sidra By The Citadel “, we didn't find it too expensive and the view over the city and the food were very good.

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