Alexandria- Bride of the Mediterranean

Alexandria- Bride of the Mediterranean

Table of contents

  1. The establishment and planning of Alexandria
  2. History of Alexandria
  3. Monuments and Museums
  4. Alexandria beaches
  5. Religious facilities

Alexandria is located on the Mediterranean coast, extends about 55 kilometers along the coast , it features many distinctive landmarks such as Library of Alexandria, Qaitbay Citadel, the Graeco-Roman Museum, and others.

The establishment and planning of Alexandria

After Macedonia unified the Greeks, Philip II of Macedon, the ruler of ancient Macedonia, wanted to invade the Persian Empire, but he was killed before doing this, so, his son, Alexander III of Macedon, or as it is commonly known, “Alexander the Great” carried out this mission, he was able to defeat the Persians in Asia. At that time, Alexander noticed the area that lies between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mariout, which has many advantages that make it an excellent spot for establishing a city, and soon he asked the Greek engineer and technical advisor “Dinocrates” to make a planning for establishing a city on this spot, and Dinocrates implemented the planning in 331 BC with the (Hypodamic) pattern, which was widely applied to many Greek cities from the fifth century BC, this pattern consists of two main streets that intersect at right angles, then other side streets parallel to both intersecting streets, which makes the final appearance of the design look like a chessboard. After that, Dinocrates built a bridge of about 1300 m in length to connect the island with the mainland, the island that was known as Pharos Island because of the establishment of the Lighthouse of Alexandria therein, after the establishment of this bridge, two ports were built (the Grand Port – on the Eastern side), which gained great importance during the Roman era and the Ptolemaic era, and (Port Al Awd Al Hamid – on the Western side), then the city was divided into five quarters, including the “Jewish Quarter”, the “Royal Quarter” and the “National Quarter”, in 332 BC the city was established and named Alexandria after its founder Alexander the Great.

History of Alexandria

Ptolemaic era

Due to the distinguished location of Alexandria, the Ptolemies took it as their capital, it also became the first Egyptian port and the first center for Egyptian commercial transactions due to its location directly on the Mediterranean coast. At that time, Egypt was building ships by importing cedar wood from the Levant and the northern Balkans, the Ptolemies also imported marble from Greece, silver from Spain and Greece, silk textiles from Phoenicia, gold from Spain and India, ostrich feathers and precious stones, while Papyrus, oil, wheat and glass products were exported. The Mouseion, the goddesses of literature and the arts, was also established, the Ptolemies brought writers and scholars from different countries of the world to study there, and the Great Library (the ancient Library of Alexandria) was established, they also allowed immigration for the Greeks to Egypt and Alexandria.

Roman era

At the beginning of the Roman era, Emperor Caesar Augustus issued a full pardon for the Egyptian and Alexandrian citizens during a sermon he delivered in Greek inside the gymnasium because of his admiration for the city of Alexandria, his appreciation of his friend Arius and for the sake of the founder of Alexandria “Alexander the Great”. This was in contrast to what happened when any city was conquered at that time in terms of killing, looting, and theft, as he allowed the Alexandrians to manage their affairs without establishing a Shura Council. However, the Alexandrians were not satisfied with the new political situation, which reduced the city’s political importance, and they remained unable to turn against the Romans until the end of the second century, when the political conflict in Rome intensified, the Alexandrians revolted against the Emperor, causing great harm to the city.

Fatimid era

During the Fatimid era, Alexandria became the most important naval base in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of military and economic terms. It was also characterized by the manufacture of linen textiles, soap and wax, and the cultivation of oily plants such as sesame and olives. The Alexandrian commercial sector also developed as a result of the dependence of the island of Sicily on the Fatimid state, which made Alexandria a world trade center in the era Fatimid. As a result of this commercial and industrial prosperity, the Alexandrian citizens enjoyed a comfortable life, so they were able to build until the city was filled with parks and palaces. During this era, Alexandria was also called the Gate of Morocco, due to its distinction with Moroccan features, as Moroccans used to pass through Alexandria for knowledge, visitation, pilgrimage, or other things, the Fatimid era ended at the hands of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi.

Ayyubid state

Thanks to the trenches and walls built by Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, the city of Alexandria became the largest naval base in Egypt, and the city was fortified because he paid attention to strengthen the guard and defense apparatus, so iron chains were pulled in the sea, thus the eastern port is called the chain. Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi was not only interested in the military aspect, he paid attention also to the aspects of urbanization, economy and culture until the welfare and civilization of the people of the city were increased. Even after the death of Salah al-Din, his successors continued to take care of the city, until the Ayyubid state ended by the Crusade led by Louis IX in 1849 AD.

Mamluk era

  • Mamluk Maritime State: This era was known as the golden age of Alexandria as a result of the economic progress, and in turn led to the urban progress of the city, which made it the focus of the world’s attention. Al-Zahir Baybars, Al-Ashraf Shaban, and Muhammad Ibn Qalawun were the most important of those who contributed to this prosperity during this era. One of the most important things that al-Zahir Baybars did was to clear the Alexandria Bay from the sediments that obstructed its course, build a hundred catapults on the city walls, restore the Alexandria lighthouse, after the earthquake of 702 AH, Muhammad bin Qalawun restored the lighthouse again. Al-Zahir Baybars also dug the Alexandria Bay in 710 AH that worked for 60 years until its water was cut off, which led to the damage of many orchards and the disappearance of villages that were located on the Gulf of Alexandria.
  • Circassian Mamluk state: Sultan Qaytbay chose the place where the lighthouse of Alexandria was built in order to build the castle known by his name until now “Qaytbay Castle”. Attention during this era was directed towards religious buildings, including (Abu Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque), (Yakout Al-arsh Mosque), (Imam Al-Busiri Mosque), and a center for hadith (Dar Al-Hadith Al-Nabihiya), until the Ras Al-Raja Road was discovered by the Portuguese in the ninth century AH, and thus, a market was created that competed with the Egyptian market known to the Europeans, and this led to damage to the Egyptian economy, which in turn led to the deterioration of Alexandrian urbanism due to the interruption of the waters of the Nile River from the city and the orchards turned into barren lands.

World War I and II

Because of Britain’s depletion of Egyptian resources and the unjust rule that Alexandria witnessed during World War I, demonstrations (Egyptian Revolution of 1919) took place calling for freedom and independence until Britain responded by imposing conditions on some of the demands. At the time of World War II, Alexandria had become a base for the British fleet, and the Alexandria-Matruh railway became a war line for Britain, as a result to the city’s exposure to German and Italian raids, a number of citizens were unjustly victimized. At the end of World War II, the Arab League was emerged, as the first document in building the Arab League was signed in 1944 AD, which was known as the Alexandria Protocol.

Egyptian revolution of 1952

As a result of the British-English occupation, the number of foreigners in the city increased, who were protected and favored by Britain, which gave Alexandria at the time of the revolution a European character, and because of the abolition of the 1936 treaty, the political situation deteriorated, which led to the British carrying out brutal acts against civilians, so the army officers, the “Free Officers,” were represented in all cities, including Alexandria. On July 23, 1952 AD, the first statement of the revolution was announced as a success, and the University of Alexandria declared its support for the revolution, so Alexandria was among the first to support the liberation movements. On July 26, 1952 AD, the Commander-in-Chief and Muhammad Anwar Sadat went to the Ministry’s headquarters in Alexandria to meet the Prime Minister to present a warning to King Farouk to abdicate, and indeed King Farouk signed the abdication document and headed, accompanied by the US ambassador, to the port to leave. Among the projects that took place during the era of the revolution in the city of Alexandria were the establishment of a passenger station, the construction of Al-Nasr Road, which was 30 meters wide, starting at the square in front of the passenger exit and ending at Al-Mansheya Square, the establishment of the local Alexandria radio, the re-planning of Kom El Deka, the restoration of the Alexandria’s arsenal, and the establishment of the free zone.

Monuments and Museums

As a result of the multiplicity of cultures and civilizations that Alexandria experienced, it enjoyed many historical, cultural, and tourist attractions, including:

  • Qaitbay Citadel: was built by Sultan Qaitbay in the same place where the old lighthouse of Alexandria was built, the castle covers an area of 17550 square meters.
  • Royal Montazah Gardens: The area of these gardens is about 370 acres, and located east of the city in the Montazah district. There is also the Royal Montazah Palace, which is built in the Italian style, and includes tourist facilities and beaches.
  • Royal Jewelry Museum: This palace was established in 1919 AD in the European style by Zainab Hanim Fahmy, and was completed by her daughter, Princess Fatima Al-Zahra. By a republican decision, the palace was converted into a museum in 1986 AD, which includes a number of royal jewelry amounting to 11,500 pieces.
  • Graeco-Roman Museum: was opened by Khedive Abbas Helmy II in 1895 AD, at first the museum included only 11 halls, but with the increase in archaeological discoveries, the number of halls increased to 25 halls, each of them includes antiquities dating back to different eras, and the museum also includes Pharaonic and other antiquities dating back to the Greco-Roman era.

Alexandria beaches

Since Alexandria is located directly on the Mediterranean coast, it features a large and distinguished number of public and private beaches, including:

  • Stanli Beach.
  • El Porifaj beach.
  • El-Mandara 1, El-Mandara 2, and El-Mandara 3.
  • Abou Hiaf 1 and Abou Hiaf 2.
  • Al Bitash 1, Al Bitash 2.
  • Glim
  • Al Max.
  • Bliss, and others.

Religious facilities

Alexandria has had many religious facilities and historical temples throughout the ages.

Islamic facilities or mosques: the Sidi Bishr Mosque, named after Sheikh Bishr Ibn Al-Hussein Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ubaid Allah Ibn Al-Hussein Ibn Bishr Al-Gohary, Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, and El Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, which was built in 1948 AD.

Churches: Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, and the church of the great martyr st. mina.

The Jewish Temple: was built because Alexandria was a home to a large number of Jews who emigrated from Morocco, Greece, Palestine, Syria and others, as their number reached about 40,000 in 1948 AD.

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