Alexandria the Great

The city offers clients a piece of the past

By: Riana Lagarde

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 facilities.

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 artifacts.

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. during Ramadan.

National Museum of Alexandria: Located on Fouad Street (Tariq al- Horreyya), in the city center

Ya’lla Tours


Renaissance Alexandria Hotel: features several amenities for business travelers, including high-speed Internet and meeting facilities, with easy access to local attractions, like the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
544 El Geish Ave.
Sidi Bishr
Alexandria, Egypt

Montazah Sheraton Hotel: offers five-star luxury surrounded by sea and gardens with views of the former King’s Palace.
Corniche Road
Alexandria, Egypt