Walking along the Corniche, travelers are awe-struck by an
imposing image of a cylindrical beacon of steel and windows
plummeting into a pool of water. The “sun” setting is the new
library, Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
An astounding 100 feet high, the glass ceiling (self-cleaning,
thankfully) cascades down 11 levels to a surrounding wall made of
Aswan granite carved with 120 different characters of language.
(This time it’s fire-proofed. Alexander the Great would be proud as
his namesake is forever steeped in history.)
Euclid devised geometry here; Aristarchus, 1,800 years before
Copernicus, determined that the Earth revolved around the sun. Now
philosophers and learned men and women of our time can visit the
library to study from its soon to be great collection.
Countries from around the world have contributed to this $220
million-plus project. The Italians and Egyptians are working hard
to preserve rare manuscripts, while the Greeks are in charge of
antiquities. The French are making a science museum, and the
Americans are devising a computer system.
Alexandria boasts beautiful European gardens, Roman architecture
and ancient artifacts above and below the water. On the eastern
side, stands Fort Qaitbey. From there, clients can dive and glimpse
spooky submerged monuments under the Mediterranean Sea such as the
ancient lighthouse of Alexandria, Cleopatra’s palace and amphorae
from ancient sea wrecks.
Up the Corniche, travelers can stroll though the royal gardens of
former King Farouk, the last king of Egypt who escaped via yacht
with his family and all the jewels he could carry. Clients will
also find a large park full of palm trees, pines, rare flowers and
exclusive hotels, with a lovely beach and luxurious tourist
For Roman ruins, start with Pompey’s Pillar: a monolithic column
of granite raised in 297 A.D., in honor of Emperor Diocletian, who
saved the city of Alexandria from a frightful famine.
Then guests can visit the only Roman amphitheater in Egypt that
contains marble seats, mosaic flooring and columns. Clients can
also head over to the Graeco-Roman Museum and see the largest
collection of Graeco-Roman artifacts in Egypt. Highlights include a
black granite statue of a collection of sarcophagi and mummies, a
mummified crocodile and statues of Roman gods and goddesses.
For history buffs, recommend a stop at the National Museum of
Alexandria in the old Bassili Pasha Palace for its impressive
historic archaeological Pharonic and Coptic and Islamic
On the West End, travelers can go deep underground in the
catacombs of Kom Ash-Shuqafa, which represent the largest example
of a Roman burial within Egypt. They were accidentally discovered
in 1900 when a donkey and cart fell into a shaft in the ground
filled with empty tombs and eerie Medusa-shields, Roman statues
wearing the Egyptian crowns and frightful carvings of snakes to
protect the sarcophagi.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina: offers several events on Sunday,
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m.7 p.m.; Friday and
Saturday 3 p.m.7 p.m.; and is closed Tuesday and holidays.
Catacombs: Located in the southwestern sector of the old city,
Shariah al-Nassarieh is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and closes at 3 p.m.
National Museum of Alexandria: Located on Fouad Street (Tariq
al- Horreyya), in the city center
|WHERE TO STAY|
Renaissance Alexandria Hotel: features several amenities for
business travelers, including high-speed Internet and meeting
facilities, with easy access to local attractions, like the
544 El Geish Ave.
Montazah Sheraton Hotel: offers five-star luxury surrounded by
sea and gardens with views of the former King’s Palace.