The city of Alexandria rings an unassuming bell to all of us who partly enjoy history and the classics, and mythology wise, the city's extent when it comes to being relevant knows no bounds. An important centre of Hellenistic tradition established by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria is currently the second largest metropolitan area in Egypt next to the capital Cairo, running along the coast of the Mediterranean in the north-central part of the country. The Mediterranean Sea's bride – or so it is called – is one of the cultural and tourism gems of Egypt, an oversight for most tourists who are more interested with the great Sphinx and the Pyramids (or mausoleums) of Giza, and the city centre of Cairo. In truth, Alexandria has more important destinations that have changed the way we look at history and life as we know it; the city being a seat of knowledge, history, and ancient civilisation. For almost 1,000 years, the city has served and has endured as the capital of Hellenistic and Roman & Byzantine Egypt long after the reign of Alexander, until the Muslims' conquest of Egypt.
Although today the city is an urban metropolitan and the sites are being modernised, we can never forget its contribution to mankind itself: the Lighthouse of Alexandria or Pharos, before it was gone, was one of the tallest man-made structure between 280 and 247 BC. Created and built by the Ptolemaic kingdom, it was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, before being reduced into an abandoned ruin due to the three earthquakes between 956 and 1323. It was also one of the oldest surviving ancient wonder after the extinct Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the surviving Great Pyramid of Giza, together with the Great Library of Alexandria, the biggest collection of text in the ancient world and one of the most significant libraries in history flourishing under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty as dedicated to the Muses; and the Musaeum or Mouseion at Alexandria, an institution that brought together some of the best scholars of the Hellenistic world, somewhat analogous to a modern university, and was supported by the patronage of the royal Ptolemies, including Ptolemy (I) Soter and Ptolemy (II) Philadelpus. The city is also the seat of the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, or the Necropolis, consisting of a series of Alexandrian tombs, statues, and objects of the Pharaonic funeral cult influenced by Hellenistic and early Imperial Roman influences.
Aside from the history, Alexandria's coast lines also have its share of the most beautiful beaches, yacht clubs, and water activity centres frequented by tourists.
How to get around within Alexandria
Alexandria has a variety of transportation modes available for tourists to take advantage. Taxis are a good way to travel around the city, with relatively cheap fares. Although taxis are not metered, rates have not been changed and adjusted for years, so make sure to be in the know of what the price ranges are. Aside from taxis, Alexandria also has a tram system, and albeit its slowness and creakiness, it is still convenient and is relatively cheap. Local buses also frequent the city, but can be very confusing especially for those who are not familiar with the city. There are also minibuses, and car rentals, if interested in driving around instead.
How to get there
The main airport in Alexandria is the Borg el Arab Airport serving destinations mainly in the Middle-East and North Africa, where Egypt is nestled. It also has flights to Milan (Italy), Athens (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey), and Beirut (Lebanon). The downside of using the airport is that it is located some 45km away from the city centre, asking for some extra travel time for travellers and tourists. If visiting the city through the said airport, cheap flights can be booked using Skyscanner.
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Airports near Alexandria
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