For most people, a visit to Egypt is all about Cairo and the Pyramids at Giza but Egypt has so much more to offer. Alexandria is one of the other places you can visit for a wonderful holiday in Egypt.
Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria's 2000-year-old history is reflected in various parts of the city in form of architecture, libraries, monuments, and recent history.
Best Places To visit in Alexandria
1. Bibliotheca Alexandria
Built to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original Bibliotheca Alexandria. Bibliotheca Alexandria is so much more than a library.
The original Library of Alexandria was famous as the best centre of knowledge for centuries, and the new library aspires to be a "centre for learning, tolerance, dialogue, and understanding". Bibliotheca Alexandria operates in 3 major languages - English, French, and Arabic and receives more than 1 million visitors each year.
Whatever piques your curiosity, the Bibliotheca Alexandria is a good place to catch up on some knowledge - new or old.
2. Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa
The Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa are a historical and archaeological site considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle ages. The features of the catacombs represent Egyptian, Roman, and Greek influence over their long history.
Inside the catacombs, you will find graves for both humans and other domestic animals. The chambers of the catacombs are connected by spiral stairs.
It is thought that the catacombs belonged to a wealthy Roman family that used them since the 2nd century AD. It was later expanded and continued to be used up to the 4th century AD.
3. Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque
Built in 1775, the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques in Egypt. The Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque is still an active place of worship that is open to all visitors. Visitors are expected to dress conservatively and cover up as a way of respecting the place of worship.
While the current mosque dates back to the 1770s, its history starts out as a tomb for one of Alexandria's wealthiest traders who was also a teacher - Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi.
The mosque's location near the Qaitbay Citadel and Cleopatra's sunken palace makes it ideal to combine these 3 historical hotspots of Alexandria in a fun-filled day with some diving.
More on the Citadel and palace below.
4. St Mark's Coptic Cathedral
St Mark's cathedral is the historical seat of the Pope of Alexandria - head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The church is said to stand on the same site where Saint Mark the Evangelist founded a church in the year 42 AD. It is said that Saint Mark was martyred in the year 68 AD and buried under the church he had founded.
While there are opposing views, the Coptic orthodox faithful believe that the head of Saint Mark remains in the church. Some relics from St Mark's body were returned from Rome in 1968.
Visiting the Saint Marks Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria will definitely make you very fond of the Gospel According to Mark.
5. Montazah Palace and gardens
Montazah place was built in the 1890s as a summer escape from Cairo's hot summer. Until the development of Sharm El Shiekh and the addition of the presidential residence, the Montazah palace was still being used for around 100 years.
While the palace is not open to the public, the expansive gardens are open for anyone who wants to take a leisurely stroll and learn about the history of the place.
6. Kom el-Dikka
Kom Al Dikka was a well-off residential area in Alexandria during the Graeco-Roman times. The Archeological site has villas, bathhouses and the only Roman amphitheatre in Egypt.
The site was discovered in the 1960s when the land was being cleared for a new construction project. While Archeological research is still ongoing, you can visit and explore the timeless structures.
7. Pompey's Pillar
Pompey's Pillar is a 25-meter high granite column that was constructed in honour of the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century AD. The pillar originally supported the statue of the emperor Augustus Diocletian in armour as his of Triumph.
The Pompey pillar rises from the pile of ruins of the former Temple of Serapeum who was a Greek-Egyptian diety. The pillar has been a fascinating sight for visitors over the centuries.
8. Cemetary of Mostafa Kamel
The Ptolemaic tombs of the Mustafa Kamel Cemetery date back to 250 BC. The tombs were discovered in 1933 by accident while levelling the ground for a football field.
The Cemetery has 4 tombs, 2 of which are well preserved and in great condition, but the upper tombs are damaged significantly.
The ancient graveyard was named after Mostafa Kamel, one of the legends of 20th century Egyptian politics. Kamel is well known for his phrase "If I was not born as an Egyptian, I would love to be an Egyptian".
9. Citadel of Qiatbay
The citadel of Qaitbay was built in the 1470s as a defence fortress on the Mediterranean seacoast. It was built to defend Egypt from the advancing Ottoman Empire of Turkey.
Built on the same ground as the formerly popular Lighthouse of Alexandria (Built between 280 - 247 BC), the Qaitbay Citadel has acted as a military base for Egyptians, Turks, French, and the British before turning it into a Naval Maritime Museum.
The museum has several labs and aquariums with many sea animals, even a model of a mermaid. Locals and foreigners alike all enjoy spending time at the Qaitbay Marina for the stunning views.
10. Cleopatra's Sunken Palace
The same earthquake and tsunami that crumbled the great Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos of Alexandria) also sunk and submerged the Antihodos Island where Cleopatra's Palace was built. This was several centuries after the Egyptian queen's death.
The best and only way to explore Cleopatra's palace is by diving into the water and looking around the various ruins of statues, grand entrances, and of course the seal life that has made it their home for more than 1400 years.
With Alexandria long history, these 10 places are just the tip of the iceberg. Going through the various attractions of a city that is built on top of several former cities is the charm of Alexandria.
The good Mediterranean climate has definitely attracted people over the centuries and contributed so much to the cultural and human diversity in the city.
Whether you want to relax on the beach, learn about the rich cultural history or even get lost in the books of one of the world's most popular libraries, Alexandria remains a great destination in Egypt and should be included on your Egypt bucket list.