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Alexandria, lovingly called "Alex"by the Egyptians, and in Arabic called by the exotic sounding name "Al Iskandariyah"was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. Alexandria became the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt and it was here that Cleopatra and Mark Antony spent most of their messy times together in the first century BC. When Mark was not leaving victims from his battles, he must have been busy leaving and mixing up wives, looking at the fact that he had five of them and some coincided untimely. At least, Cleopatra (the seventh, no idea what the first six Cleopatras may have accomplished) managed to enter the Hall of Fame. Alexandria lost much of its grandeur after this period, and Napoleon found a small fishing village was left when he came to Egypt. After that, Alexandria expanded again rapidly, as a resort place but also for commerce and trade. Many foreigners have left the country in the meantime, but also some from other Mediterranean countries have staid behind in Alexandria, contributing to its atmosphere which is different from other Egyptian cities.

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It is a city, which stretches itself for 35 kilometres along the Mediterranean, with the centre lying around the Eastern and Western harbour. This makes it easy to get around, as you hardly can get lost with the sea always close to you; you just need to remember if it was on your right or left hand side when you started off. But the fact that the restaurants serve no alcohol may help you remembering.
Fort Qaitbey, standing at the entrance to the harbour, is a big landmark, built in the 15th century by Sultan Qaitbey and later beautified by Mohammed Ali. It is here that Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has stood until it sunk after an earthquake.
One of the sites we visited was the
Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (Mound of shards) but you will find no picture, as it was forbidden to take the camera. The catacombs were found by a goatherd whose goat fell in a shaft. Inside, it is a bit creepy, with rectangular holes where the graves used to be and an underground hall, where the family would have their party. You will also find a space where dead bodies where toasted like slices of sandwich bread. There is a mixture of Pharaonic, Greek and Roman statues and pictures inside, and even freely mixed; gods from pharaoh's times wear Roman dresses and all go hand in handa. There is also the hall of Caracalla, where the victims of this notorious emperor were buried.

In the old days, Alexandria was a scientific and philosophical centre and in 300 BC, a famous library was established. It is said that all ships, entering the harbor, had to share a copy with that library of all rolls they had on board. Unfortunately, wars and fire made the library disappear over the centuries. In 2002, a new library was opened on the place, where the old one once stood. It is an enormous project and has cost more than 200 million Euro. On the right above, the modern building, its outside symbolizing the sun, which was so important to the old Egyptians, just rising above the boats. On its outer walls, letters from all alphabets are written.
To the left, you see the horses and carriages, which are used to transport tourists along the Corniche at a leisure pace. Next to that the statue of Sa'ad Zaghloul, the liberation warrior (1860-1927) who was banned in 1919 by the British and became a national hero, guarding the square which was named after him. Next to that the
Abu el-Abbas el-Mursi Mosque, which was built in 1685 on top of the 13th century tomb of someone with the same name, who some say was a Sufi saint, and others an Andalusian sheikh; maybe he was both, but at least he is the patron of fishermen and sailors in Alexandria. It still contains some old elements but it has been renovated a number of times, and the last building is from 1943. Alexandria has a Tahrir (Liberation) Square as well, just like Cairo, and it was here that someone tried to kill Nasser in 1954, which led to banning the Muslim Brotherhood.

It has taken about 30 years to unearth the Roman theatre, which was built to house 800 spectators. It was found at Kom el Dik (Mound of Rubble) under a Turkish fort and a slum. The theatre was used for music as well as wrestling and at one time, it must have had a roof on top. There are also baths, with a very modern heating system underneath (picture in the middle) and excavations are ongoing on a residential area next to it.
To the left you see "Pompey's pillar", which was actually erected in honor of Diocletian in the third century of red Aswan granite.

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In the harbor of Alexandria, remnants of Pharaonic times have been found; some have been taken out and are on display, others are still under water and may be admired in the underwater museum by divers. The two pictures above to the left are posters, showing the impressive act of getting some things out of the water; the obelisk to the right is one of the things, which came out of the harbor and now can be seen near the Roman theatre.

Above you find pictures of the two palaces in Montazah Park. The construction of the one most left was started in 1892 by King Abbas II, the Salamlek palace. The Salamlek palace now serves as a luxury hotel. In 1932 King Fuad built an even larger palace in Florence style and called it the Haramlik. It has been the royal summer residence for 20 years until in 1952 he was abdicated. It has a fabulous location and view and must have cost a fortune.
Underneath, you see a picture of the amazing souk, the tram which crosses the city from left to right and the train station.