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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Famous for its brilliantly blue oceans and stunning natural beauty, Alexandria is a coastal town on the northwest edge of Egypt boasting a cosmopolitan, Mediterranean atmosphere. The second-largest city in Egypt, Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great and was established as Egypt’s capitol for over 1,000 years. Home to such architectural landmarks as the Roman Catacombs, Pompey's Pillar, the Lighthouse, and the Alexandria Library, the city offers a unique combination of ancient history set against the modern milieu of a beachside town.
The Top 4: What to Do in Alexandria
1. Alexandria Library:
During the reign of Ptolemy II, the Royal Library of Alexandria was founded around the beginning of the 3rd century B.C, and eventually grew to become one of the largest and most respected libraries in the ancient world. The current complex, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is set slightly away from the original library's ruins. The architecture of the library features a reading room with a 32-meter high glass paneled roof, tilted towards the sea to represent a sundial.
2. Alexandria Museum:
Considered one of Egypt’s best museums, Alexandria National Museum is housed in a beautifully restored palace, and features 1,800 artifacts from the city’s history.
3. Pompey's Pillar:
Claiming the title of Alexandria's tallest monument, Pompey's Pillar towers approximately 25 meters high. Constructed completely from red Aswan granite in honor of the Emperor Diocletian, the pillar was raised at the end of the 4th century to celebrate Egyptian capture of Alexandra after it had been under siege.
4. Roman Catacombs:
Slightly east of Alexandria lie the Roman Catacombs. They were discovered in 1900 A.D when a drawn donkey card fell into a pit, leading villagers to explore the area and find the ancient ruins. Most likely a private tomb that was later converted to a public cemetery, the site features three levels, including a rock-hewn staircase, rotunda, banquette hall, vestibule, antechamber, and burial chamber.
When to Go
September and October are the best months to travel to Alexandria: the summer crowds have dispersed, the water is still warm enough to swim, and temperatures are mild enough to enjoy a stroll on the beach.