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Alexandria extends about 32 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in north-central Egypt. With population 4.1 millions, is the second-largest city in Egypt, and is the country's largest seaport, serving about 80% of Egypt's imports and exports. It is home to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the new Library). It is an important industrial centre because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez and other cities in Egypt.


In ancient times, Alexandria was one of the most famous cities in the world. It was founded around a small pharaonic town c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great. Alexandria was intended to supersede Naucratis as a Hellenistic centre in Egypt, and to be the link between Greece and the rich Nile Valley. In a century, Alexandria had become the largest city in the world and for some centuries more, was second only to Rome. It became the main Greek city of Egypt, with an extraordinary mix of Greeks from many cities and backgrounds. It remained Egypt's capital for nearly a thousand years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641 when a new capital was founded at Fustat (it was later absorbed into Cairo). Alexandria was known because of its lighthouse (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its library (the largest library in the ancient world); and the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.

From the late 19th century, it became a major centre of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centre in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.

In the first century, the population of Alexandria contained over 180,000 adult male citizens (from a papyrus dated 32 CE), in addition to a large number of freedmen, women, children, and slaves. Estimates of the total population range from 500,000 to over 1,000,000, making it one of the largest cities ever built before the Industrial Revolution and the largest pre-industrial city that was not an imperial capital.




Alexandria has an arid climate, but the prevailing north wind, blowing across the Mediterranean, gives the city a different climate from the desert hinterland. The city's climate shows Mediterranean characteristics, namely mild, variably rainy winters and hot, dry summers which, at times, can be very humid; January and February are the coolest months with daily maximum temperatures typically ranging from 12 to 18°C. Alexandria experiences violent storms, rain and sometimes hail during the cooler months. July and August are the hottest and most humid months of the year with an average daily maximum temperature of 30 °C.




After Rome, Alexandria was considered the major seat of Christianity in the world. The Pope of Alexandria was the second among equals, second only to the bishop of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire until 430. The Church of Alexandria had jurisdiction over the entire continent of Africa. After the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., the Church of Alexandria was split between the Miaphysites and the Melkites. The Miaphysites went on to constitute what is known today as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The Melkites went on the constitute what is known today as the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. In the 19th century, Catholic and Protestant missionaries converted some of the adherents of the Orthodox churches to their respective faiths. Today, the patriarchal seat of the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church is Saint Mark Cathedral in Ramleh.


Most of the citizens of Alexandria adhere to the religion of Islam. The most famous mosque in Alexandria is Abu el-Abbas el-Mursi Mosque in Anfoushi.


Alexandria's once very flourishing Jewish community is now almost extinct after the Arab nationalist movement spurred most to leave for Israel, France, Brazil and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s. The most important synagogue in Alexandria is the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue.


Colleges and universities


Alexandria comprises a number of higher education institutions. Alexandria University is a public university that follows the Egyptian system of higher education. Many of its faculties are internationally renowned, most importantly its faculty of engineering. In addition, the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport is a semi-private educational institution that offers courses for both high school and undergraduate level students. Université Senghor is a private French university that focuses on the teaching of humanities, politics and international relations, and which mainly targets students from the African continent. Other institutions of higher education in Alexandria include Alexandria Institute of Technology (AIT) and Pharos University in Alexandria.


Alexandria has a very long history of foreign educational institutions. The first foreign schools date to the early 19th century, when French missionaries began establishing French charitable schools to educate the Egyptians. Today, the most important French schools in Alexandria run by Catholic missionaries include Collège de la Mère de Dieu, Collège Notre Dame de Sion, Collège Saint Marc, Ecoles des Soeurs Franciscaines (4 different schools), Ecole Gérard, Ecole Saint Gabriel, Ecole Saint-Vincent de Paul, Ecole Sainte Catherine, and Institution Sainte Jeanne-Antide. As a reaction to the establishment of French religious institutions, a secular (laic) mission established Lycée el-Horreya, which initially followed a French system of education, but is currently a public school run by the Egyptian government. The only school in Alexandria that completely follows the French educational system is Ecole Champollion. It is usually frequented by the children of French expatriates and diplomats in Alexandria.

English schools in Alexandria are fewer in number and more recently established, in comparison with the French schools. The most important English language schools in the city include Alexandria American School, British School of Alexandria, Egyptian American School, Modern American School, Sacred Heart Girls' School (SHS), Schutz American School, Victoria College, El Manar Language School for Girls (M.E.G.S) previously called (Scottish School for Girls), Kaumeya Language School (KLS), El Nasr Boys' School (EBS), and El Nasr Girls' College (EGC). Most of these schools have been nationalized during the era of Nasser, and are currently Egyptian public schools run by the Egyptian ministry of education.

The only German school in Alexandria is the Deutsche Schule der Borromärinnen (DSB of Saint Charles Borromé).

The Montessori educational system was first introduced in Alexandria in 2009 at Alexandria Montessori.



Alexandria is served by Borg al Arab Airport located about 25 km away from city centre. In March 2010, the former airport, Alexandria International Airport was closed to commercial operations with all airlines operating out of Borg al Arab Airport where a brand new terminal was completed in February 2010.



The Royal Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest library in the world. It is generally thought to have been founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, during the reign of Ptolemy II of Egypt. It was likely created after his father had built what would become the first part of the Library complex, the temple of the Muses — the Museion, Greek ???????? (from which the modern English word museum is derived).

It has been reasonably established that the Library, or parts of the collection, were destroyed by fire on a number of occasions (library fires were common and replacement of handwritten manuscripts was very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming). To this day the details of the destruction (or destructions) remain a lively source of controversy. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2003 near the site of the old Library.


Great Lighthouse

The Great Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, reputed to be 138 metres high, was sited. The Pharos lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, making it the second longest surviving ancient wonder next to the Great Pyramid of Giza. A temple of Hephaestus also stood on Pharos at the head of the mole.


Alexandria's catacombs

Alexandria's catacombs, known as Kom al-Shoqafa, are a short distance southwest of the pillar, consist of a multi-level labyrinth, reached via a large spiral staircase, and featuring dozens of chambers adorned with sculpted pillars, statues, and other syncretic Romano-Egyptian religious symbols, burial niches and sarcophagi, as well as a large Roman-style banquet room, where memorial meals were conducted by relatives of the deceased. The catacombs were long forgotten by the citizens until they were discovered by accident in the 1800s.



  • Alexandria Aquarium
  • The Alexandria National Museum
  • The Graeco-Roman Museum
  • Royal Jewelry Museum
  • The Museum of Fine Arts
  • The Cavafy museum
  • The Alexandria National Museum was inaugurated 31 December 2003 by Hosni Mubarak. It is located in a restored Italian style palace in Tariq Al-Horreya Street (former Rue Fouad), near the centre of the city. It contains about 1,800 artifacts that narrate the story of Alexandria and Egypt. Most of these pieces came from other Egyptian museums.

The museum is housed in the old Al-Saad Bassili Pasha Palace, who was one of the wealthiest wood merchants in Alexandria. Construction on the site was first undertaken in 1926.


The main sport that interests Alexandrians is football, as is the case in the rest of Egypt and Africa. Alexandria Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Alexandria, Egypt. It is currently used mostly for football matches, and was used for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. The stadium is the oldest stadium in Egypt and Africa, being built in 1929. The stadium holds 20,000 people. Alexandria was one of three cities that participated in hosting the African Cup of Nations in January 2006, which Egypt won. Sea sports such as surfing, jet-skiing and water polo are practised on a lower scale.

Alexandria has four stadiums: Borg El Arab Stadium, Harras El-Hedoud Stadium, Alexandria Stadium, El-Krom Stadium

Other less popular sports like tennis and squash are usually played in private social and sports clubs, like:

  • Alexandria Sporting Club - in "Sporting"
  • Alexandria Country club
  • El-Ittihad El-Iskandary Club
  • El-Olympi Club
  • Koroum Club
  • Haras El Hodood Club
  • Lagoon Resort Courts
  • Smouha SC - in "Smouha"

Alexandria Cycling Carnival

There is also the Alexandria weekly cycling carnival, Organized by Cycle Egypt group, which is held every Friday, Cycling amateurs gather every Friday morning to cycle through El Courniche from El Montazah to El Qalaa or to Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the summer.


Two writers loom large over the modern literature of Alexandria: C.P. Cavafy, the Alexandria-born Greek poet, and the Indian-born Englishman Lawrence Durrell, author of The Alexandria Quartet. Cavafy incorporated Greek history and mythology. Durrell used the cosmopolitan city as a landscape to explore human desires. Naguib Mahfouz's Miramar is the best known of the Arabic novels set in Alexandria. In the 2000s, writers such as Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ki Longfellow, and Keith Miller have used Alexandria as a setting for speculative fiction.


Alexandria is a main summer resort in the Middle East, visited by people from all other cities to enjoy the sun and the sea. Beaches become full of umbrellas and families and the city is usually crowded in summer. There are both public beaches (which anyone can use for free, and are usually crowded) and private beaches (which can be used upon paying a small fee). There are also private beaches that are dedicated only to the guests of some hotels.

Alexandria Facts and Figures

  • Alexandria is located 220 km north of Cairo.
  • Alexandria extends about 32 km beachfront of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Population 4.1 millions.
  • Was founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great.
  • Total area 2,679 km2.
  • Total population 4,110,015 (2007)
  • Arid climate.
  • Developed infrastructure.
  • Few hours flight from any European country.
  • Average daily Alexandria January temperature: 9°C
  • Average daily Alexandria August 23°C


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