"The Pearl of the Mediterranean"
The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern; its ambience and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the country although it is actually only 225 km. from Cairo.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Graeco-Roman Egypt, its status as a beacon of culture symbolized by Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Alexandria was also the center of learning in the ancient world. But ancient Alexandria declined, and when Napoleon landed he found a sparsely-populated fishing village. From the 19th century Alexandria took a new role, as a focus for Egypt’s commercial and maritime expansion. This Alexandria has been immortalized by writers such as E.M. Forster and Cavafy. Generations of immigrants from Greece, Italy and the Levant settled here and made the city synonymous with commerce, cosmopolitanism, and bohemian culture; Lawrence Durrell described it as “ the capital city of Asiatic Europe, if such a thing could exist”.
Alex is a city to explore at random, it’s as important to enjoy the atmosphere as it is to see the “sights”. The city center now stretches back from Midan Saad Zaghloul, on the seafront, where there is a statue of the nationalist leader. This was formerly the site of the Caesaruem, a magnificent temple began by Cleopatra for her lover Antony and subsequently completed by their enemy Octavian and dedicated to himself. Two famous obelisks( one known as “Cleopatra’s Needle”, now on the Embakment in London, the other is in New York’s Central Park) were once here but all traces of the temple have disappeared. The days post-colonial architecture, like the Pseudo-Moorich Hotel Cecil, vies with more modern buildings. The older “European” city center was inland of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, near where the French Gardens used to be, now Midan Tahrir. Strolling round here you can still see old street nameplates and find the jewellry and antiques shops for which the area was known.
Playing: Moghram Ya Lali Midi
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