Throughout history , Alexandria was the
Egyptian gate to Europe and the Mediterranean countries, and the
forefront of Pharaonic , Coptic and Islamic civilization as revealed in
its monuments. Thus it has been and still is a cultural center of
Throughout history , Alexandria was the Egyptian gate to Europe and the Mediterranean countries, and the forefront of Pharaonic , Coptic and Islamic civilization as revealed in its monuments. Thus it has been and still is a cultural center of learning.
When Alexander the Macedonian , son of Greek king Philip arrived in Egypt in hot pursuit of the Persians , the traditional enemy of the Greeks , he succeeded in beating them with the help of Egyptians who responded favorably to him because he respected their religion and did not obligate them to abandon it .
When the war was over , Egypt 's priests crowned Alexander as a pharaoh. In 331 B.C. Alexandria , named after its founder, Alexander the great , was completed.
The city was first considered as a capital of Egypt, which could secure stable government and an invulnerable fortress to fend off any impending threat against Egypt from the Mediterranean. However ,the city later developed as "the chief entrance for thriving trade between the Mediterranean world and the East"
The original site was close to the ancient finishing hamlet called Rhachotis (Raqoodah) , lying between the present site of Qait Bey Citadel and Ras el Teen Palace , taking advantage of the shelter provided by Pharos Island.
Alexandria was a model walled city , built according to the Hellenistic Gridiron plan of the architect Dinocrates (Chessboard plan) . One century after its creation, Alexandria become the largest city in the ancient world.
In the first and second century B.C. , it was the city in the human history, with a population of 100,000-150,000 inhabitants belonging to various "nationalities". The city was subdivided into three distinct quarters:
1. Royal Hellenistic quarter ( on the Harbor)
2. Egyptian national quarter in the west
3. Jewish quarter in the east.
These quarters were virtually self-standing towns.
Places occupied nearly one quarter of the city area , in addition to a huge stadium, amphitheater and well-cultivated gardens and parks, together with two obelisks named after Cleopatra (at present available in London and New York).
During the reign of the Ptolemics , Alexandria was the seat of government and it developed as a central sea port.
Ptolemy and his successors (including Cleopatra VII) added numerous urban , cultural and economic improvements to the city. Two harbors ; the East harbor and the West Harbor were created . Pharos Island was connected with the mainland by a causeway , thus creating the two harbors basin . The pharos light house , one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World , was constructed of white marble and stood at the eastern tip of the island . It became the prototype of light houses the worldover and has lent its name to denote lighthouse in several tongues (Arabic : Fanar , English: Pharos , French: Phare ,Italian : Faro)
The city was provided with a well-knit fresh water system of canals and reservoirs. In 31 B.C. the Roman Emperor Octavius (Augustus) vanquished Cleopatra and her ally Mark Anthony in the battle of Actium , thus leading Egypt into possession of the Roman Empire. During the Roman period (30 B.C.-300AD), Alexandria was maintained as the seat of government of Emperor Augastus , where half of his military forces were based .
In 621 AD the Arabs managed to enter Alexandria and a great Arabaisation movement began. Scholars from East and West flocked To Alexandria which has been the center of the culture and enlightenment. It became rife with school and academies as well as huge buildings and places . Trade flourished as well as industry. It was famous for its glass , ceramics and textile as well as engraving on wood and on buildings.
Furthermore , Alexandria became a world famous shipbuilding center practically during the Fatimid age when it became the bases of the Egyptian fleet .
During the reign of Mohamed Ali and his successors in the Nineteenth century , a railway line was extended from Cairo to Alexandria and to other Egyptian cities.Progress and modernization of the city continued until the present time .
Pharos Alexandria Lighthouse the third of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world , was built at the eastern tip of Pharos Island. The Lighthouse was designed by the Sosetratus during the reign of Ptolemy I and was completed in 280-297 B.C. during the reign of PtolemyII.
Old Alexandria University was established by Dimitrius Vallrius during the reign of Ptolmy I as a study and research center.
Caesar's Temple was ordered to be built by Cleopatra VII in the name of Mark Antony. Two Obelisks named after Pharaohs Thutmus III, Seti I and Ramses II were relocated from Heliopolis Temple to the center of Caesar's Temple.
Roman Theater is the only remaining Roman theatre in Egypt was discovered in 1960. Ar-Ras as Sauda Temple , dating back to late 2nd and 3rd century A.D. , was discovered in 1936.
Roman Baths of Koum el Dekka , Cleopatra and Tabozides were discovered during the sixties.
A Number of tombs still survive at al Shatbi , Mustafa Kamel , and Koum al Shoqafa.
QAIT Bey Citadel one of the most important citadels in Egypt was build by the Mameluke Sultan al Ashraf Abul- Nasr Qait Bey in 1477 A.D.
Alexandria Walls built by Alexander and completed by Ptolemic kings were discovered in 1866 A.D.
Include Saint Mark's Church , Marmina al Agaibi Monastery and the Glass Monastery.
Include the mosques of al Attareen, Al Mursi Abul-Abass, Sidi Bishr and Imam el Buseiri.
Museums includes :
Alexandria Museum , Graeco- Roman Museum , Fine Arts Museum ,Mahmoud Said Museum , Naval Museum, Natural History Museum and Aquatic Museum and Royal Jewelry Museum.
A French mission has recently accomplished significant discoveries. Of these , there were plaques in hieroglyphic, dating back the pharonic 26 dynasty , in addition to a number of colossal and miniature statues including one in good condition of the "Sphinx' , a queen and a broken king's head , believed to be Mark Antony's. The French mission is currently conducting submarine archeological search work in the Blank waters areas in the Mediterranean , nearby Alexandria , were huge opportunities for archeological discoveries abound. A submarine museum of all discoveries made is proposed to keep such treasures within their 'natural environment"
Finally Alexandria is characterized by its pleasant climate and splendid scenery. It is rife with Ptolemic, Roman , Bezantine and Arab monuments in addition to its museums and white sand beaches which stretched for more than 20 kms along the Mediterranean Sea. Hence it is rightly called "The Mermaid of the Mediterranean"
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