Though it is no longer the center of world power it was in the years after Alexander founded the city in 331 BC, present-day Alexandria does still lay claim to some greatness. It’s the largest city by population located directly on the Mediterranean, and the fourth-largest city in the Arab world.
Of course such an old city has many historic sites. The most famous one, unfortunately, is long gone. That would be the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa – one of the lesser known seven wonders of the Middle Ages – are definitely worth an hour or two of your time.
Not far from the catacombs, you can wander around Pompey’s Pillar, which sits atop the city’s ancient acropolis. This Roman ruin is also interesting because it is almost completely surrounded by modern-day residential buildings chock full of people living on just about the same plot of land as their counterparts 2,000 years ago.
Next on your tour should be the Citadel of Qaitbay, which was built in the 15th century on the same site the ancient lighthouse once occupied. It was a military fort until the French and British, on separate occasions, bombarded it with weaponry the fort was never designed to defend.
Also worth a visit is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a contemporary nod to the ancient Library of Alexandria, which was one of the ancient world’s largest and most revered.
Alexandria’s bustling waterfront gave us plenty of opportunities for watching people and sampling local cuisines. At the end of the day, that’s really why we travel – to acquaint ourselves with other societies and cultures and then eat their food!