Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, Arabic El-Iskandarijja, second largest city in Egypt, located on the western tip of the Nile Delta on a spit between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mariut (Mareotissee), (2018) 5.1 million residents.

Seat of an Orthodox Melkite patriarch, a Monophysite (Coptic) patriarch and the “Patriarch of Alexandria” of the Copts united with Rome. Alexandria is an educational center with Alexandria University (founded in 1942), French Senghor University (founded in 1990) and the Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Maritime Transport; Greco-Roman museum with finds mainly from Alexandrian necropolises, especially from the time of 300 BC. To 300 AD, as well as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (opened in 2002). The Museion of Fine Arts has works of Egyptian and European painting from the 16th to 19th centuries. Century.


According to computergees, today Alexandria is the largest and most important port and trading center in Egypt as well as an industrial center with oil refineries, cotton, chemical, motor vehicle, food, cigarette industries, tanneries and others; major tourism; 35 km to the west is Sidi Krir with the first nuclear power plant in Egypt.


Alexandria has an international airport; the old east harbor is now a fishing and yachting harbor; The Westhafen is used for maritime traffic with a cargo turnover of (2012) 48.9 million t; large dry dock.


Little of ancient Alexandria has been preserved in the modern city or can be recovered through excavations. The ancient geographer Strabo gives an idea of ​​the appearance of this most important Hellenistic city. Alexandria was Deinocrates according to the plan of Alexander’s builderbuilt in a system of streets laid out at right angles, consisted of five districts and was enclosed by a circular wall. Across from the city was the island of Pharos, which was connected to Alexandria by an artificial stone dam (Heptastadion) (today land-based) and supported the approximately 120 m high lighthouse (completed around 279 BC), which was the first free-standing tower (square base, octagonal and round structure) was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Arab fort Kaitbai has been located here since the 15th century. – In ancient times the main traffic was concentrated in the east; here was the royal quarter (Brucheion, Bruchion, Bruchium), which took up almost a third of the entire city and, apart from the palace complexes and gardens, comprised almost all important buildings: administration buildings, barracks of the bodyguards, the museion, Alexander (?) And the Ptolemaic kings. The great Alexandrian library was connected to the Museion. In its place was built according to plans by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta a new building (1995–2000), whose futuristic architecture takes up the shape of a sun disk. Further south, probably already in the area of ​​the Neapolis district, where the gymnasium with its large halls and the court building (Dikasterion) were also located, is the Roman amphitheater from the 2nd century AD (uncovered in 1964, now an archaeological park). The west was occupied by the oldest district of Rhakotis, which dates back to pre-Macedonian times. Here was the city’s most important temple, the Serapeion, from whose forecourt the still upright Diocletian’s Column has been preserved (today the Archaeological Park), the – erroneously called Pompey’s Column – probably in AD 302 in honor of Diocletian was erected; in the immediate vicinity the well-preserved Roman catacombs (Kom-esch-Schukafa), whose branched floor plan is reminiscent of ancient Egyptian tombs and temples. In 1988, the remains of Cleopatra’s palace and other ancient buildings and quays were discovered in the water of today’s eastern harbor, the Pontus magnus of antiquity.

The Terbana Mosque, built in 1684, and the tomb mosque of Abu El-Abbas el-Mursi, founded in 1767, date from the Islamic period.

In addition to the oriental-looking old town, Alexandria today offers a modern cityscape. Modern urban development began in the 19th century after the connection with the Nile and Cairo had been established in 1820 (then 15,000 residents) with the construction of the Mahmudijja Canal by Mehmed Ali. Modern hotels have sprung up in the districts along the coast to the east (“Corniche”), and new holiday villages have sprung up on the coast to the west.


Alexandria, in Greek Alexandreia, was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. The Greek capital of Egypt. Its population is estimated by Diodorus for the 1st century BC. Chr. Given as 300,000 free people and should have been twice as large with slaves and strangers. It consisted mainly of Greek colonists, Egyptians and Jews. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies made Alexandria their residence and, through the establishment of the Museion and the Alexandrian Library, the center of Greek education and science (Alexandrian Age). In Alexandria, inter alia Callimachus, Theocritus, Eratosthenes, Archimedes and Aristarchus of Samothrace. The city grew rapidly through trade and had reached its heyday when it was built in 48 BC. Caesar was badly affectedin the Alexandrian War(fire in the library and the Museion).

After Cleopatra’s death, Alexandria fell in 30 BC. To Rome and became the seat of the Roman governor of Egypt. In the 1st century AD, Alexandria was the second largest city in the Roman Empire. In Egypt, possession of Alexandrian citizenship was a prerequisite for acquiring Roman citizenship. Constant disputes with the Jews since the 1st century led to the destruction of the Jewish quarter under Trajan. In the 3rd century, Alexandria fell temporarily to Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, with the Brucheion district being destroyed in 269. Since the middle of the 2nd century Alexandria was the seat of a patriarch and the main foster home of Christian theology (Alexandrian school under Clement, Origen et al.). The destruction of the Serapeion, the last seat of ancient theology and learning, put an end to the ancient pre-Christian religions (389).

In 618 the Sassanid Chosrau conquered the city, which Herakleios won again for Byzantium in 629. In 642 it fell into the hands of the Arabs under Amr Ibn al-As. While Alexandria was still an important trading city in Byzantine times, since 642 only trade with India went through Alexandria; the Mediterranean trade was wholly in the hands of the Venetians. The political importance of Alexandria also declined after the Arab conquest; in the 10th century the new capital Cairo arose.

In the Middle Ages, the city was attacked several times by Christian armies (12th century, 1365), including pirates. With the discovery of the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497 and the establishment of Portuguese power in the East Indies, finally since the conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans in 1517, Alexandria’s importance declined. British rule (1882) and the time of the Egyptian Republic (since 1952) brought a new upswing.

Alexandria, Egypt

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