9 attractions not to miss in Alexandria
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt and is considered a major economic center. With the lighthouse which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, it’s one of the most history-filled cities, also home to many Greco-Roman landmarks. When planning your next trip to Egypt, make sure to take the time to visit the beauty of Alexandria and learn all about the history of the ancient world there, as well as many other types of adventures and activities awaiting your arrival.
1. Citadel of Qaitbay
The 15th century fortress was established in 1477 AD by a sultan named Al-Ashraf Sayf El-Din Qaitbay. The citadel is located on the Mediterranean Sea coast, situated on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island. Built on the exact sight of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Qaitbay’s efforts were in vain since the Ottomans took control of Egypt later on in 1512, but the fortress remains.
The fortress was heavily damaged during the British bombardment of Alexandria, therefore the current one is not the original. Visit the naval museum housed in the citadel and explore the inside of the fortress to get a glimpse of the huge structure that once stood on its foundation.
2. Royal Jewelry Museum
Located in Zizenia, this art and history museum exists within the former palace of Princess Fatma ElZahraa. The museum is filled with a collection of jewelry and jewels in the building’s halls, as well as 19th century paintings, statues, decorative arts and more. The jewelry pieces and art belonged to the dynasty of Muhammed Ali and his descendants. After the revolution, the jewelries were kept secure until a decree was issued by President Mubarak in 1986 to assign Fatma ElZahraa Palace to be a special museum to house those pieces.
3. Bibliotheca Alexandrina
What was once one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world is now the Library of Alexandria and is also a major and cultural center, located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The library is believed to have held between 200 to 700 thousand books, but it had enough shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 220 thousand square feet.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina has many different specialized libraries for maps, children, four museums, a planetarium and more! It’s not only a simple library, but it’s so much more and worth your time to visit.
4. Montaza Palace Gardens
The Montaza Palace consists of a palace, museum and extensive gardens. The Salamlek Palace was the first to ground the Montaza Palace and was built by Khedive Abbas II in 1892, the last Egyptian monarch king. King Fuad I was the one to add the larger Al-Haramlik Palace and royal gardens to the Montaza Palace grounds. Today, it’s a public museum of the Muhammed Ali Dynasty family history, while the Salamlek Palace is an adjacent hotel.
5. Pompey’s Pillar
Visit the 25-meter-high granite column; one of the best-known ancient monuments still standing in Alexandria today. Pompey’s Pillar was completed in 292AD and was dedicated to the Emperor Diocletian. It was damaged and rebuilt again and destroyed once more. The high platform was accessed by a staircase of 100 steps. Even though most of the temple of Serapis is now gone, the site is worth your visit to witness the grand column; Pompey’s Pillar.
6. Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue
One of the two remaining synagogues in Alexandria, where there was once twelve, Eliyahu Hanavi is located in Nabi Daniel street in Alexandria. Although it was built in 1354, it was bombed but then re-built with contributions from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty.
The synagogue is the witness of a disappearing Jewish community. Standing at the heart of the city of Alexandria, the synagogue could accommodate 700 worshipers and was the last one functioning in Egypt until it closed in 2012 due to security reasons. Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is a symbol of Egypt’s historical plurality, when diverse national and religious communities worked and lived amongst each other in a spirit of conviviality and religious freedom.
7. Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
This historical archaeological site is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The necropolis has a series of tombs, statues and archaeological objects. Don’t miss a chance to visit the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, which translates to “Mound of Shards” and is known to feature Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultural points. It is believed that the catacombs were only intended for a single family, but for an unclear reason, the site was expanded in order to house numerous other individuals.
8. Ancient Roman Amphitheater
The archaeological site located in Kom El Dekka houses an ancient Roman theater, baths and a villa with mosaics. Amphitheater stands for double theatre and it’s a structure built in a semi-circular shape. Even though the structure is now considered to be ruins, it was originally an open-air theatre and had galleries that contained rooms for more spectators along with arrangements of 700-800 marble seats. Visit the Ancient Roman Amphitheater, which is considered the most important Greco Roman monument in Egypt today. It’s one of the most interesting historical sites in Alexandria, which is why it’s included in almost all travel packages to Alexandria.
9. Underwater Excursions
Last, but by no means least, is an activity most famous in Alexandria; underwater excursions. Alexandria is known for its many entertaining underwater adventures, many of which can include museums that lie safely under the coastal waters. For example, Cleopatra Palace is one of Alexandria’s submerged monuments which was once part of the ancient city of Alexandria.
Underwater excursions are completely safe as you do not need to be a swimmer, because you will be accompanied by a professional who will help you underwater. This is one of the most memorable activities you can do alone or with friends.
All this and more are located in the second largest city in Egypt. Learn all there is to know about the ancient world and enjoy an unforgettable trip to Alexandria when planning your next trip to Egypt!