Alexandria is one of the largest and most popular cities in Egypt – meaning it welcomes more than its fair share of tourists each and every year! In fact, if you’re planning a trip to North Africa in the near future, it’s likely Alexandria will pop up as a recommended spot to visit. But, before you go, it’s well worth getting the lowdown on what to expect from the area and its amazing history. Here are some fun facts about Alexandria to help clue you in.
1. It’s the biggest city in the Mediterranean.
Alexandria doesn’t just hold the distinction of being Egypt’s second-largest city – it’s also famous for being the biggest metropolis of its kind in the Med! It’s home to more than 5.2 million people, and it’s around 25 miles or 40 km large from end to end.
2. It’s named after its famous founder.
Alexandria is named after a true historical legend – Alexander the Great! He was the conquesting leader of Corinth and Macedon, and he first established this Egyptian city when building upon the initial village of Rhacotis. The city’s been around for more than 2,300 years – it’s truly old!
3. It’s famous for being the home of multiple important Egyptian landmarks.
While many people will head to Cairo to drink in many of Egypt’s famous landmarks and sights, Alexandria plays host to at least three of the most notable tourist sites in the country. For example, you can always plan visits around the Citadel of Qaitbay and the Alexandria Library!
4. Cleopatra was born here.
Alexandria is said to have been the birthplace of one of history’s greatest leaders and certainly one of the most important Egyptian icons – the legendary Queen Cleopatra VII, who many of us are probably aware of thanks to history class!
5. It was home to one of the original Wonders of the World.
While it’s an ancient wonder now, the Lighthouse of Alexandria played a pivotal role as part of the original Seven Wonders! The city played host to a sailing beacon otherwise known as the Pharos – and it likely helped to influence the design of modern lighthouses.
6. There’s a huge necropolis in the heart of the city.
Believe it or not, archaeologists only discovered the enormous Gabbari necropolis in 1997! This huge burial ground is said to date back more than 2,000 years – and those investigating it have even found ancient graffiti left behind by people robbing the graves for riches!
7. It has one of the oldest tram systems on record.
At the very least, the Alexandria tram system is likely the oldest of its kind in Africa, with the transport service starting up all the way back in 1860! Of course, electric trams didn’t become a thing until the turn of the 20th century, but before that time, people used horse-drawn and steam trains to get around the city.
8. Weirdly, it became a village again before it regained its former glory.
Alexandria has always been important in the history of Egyptian societal growth, but bizarrely, the area went into decline for centuries. Around the 7th century, the city devolved back into a fishing village – lining up with Napoleon’s claims when he eventually arrived on the city’s shores. However, the city was revived in the 1800s.
9. There’s not much left of ancient Alexandria.
While the city is certainly ripe for historical sights and retains much of its architectural wonder, Alexandria is far from preserved. In fact, much of the ancient streets, buildings, and landmarks here fell prey to invading forces and earthquakes – meaning it sadly didn’t stand much of a chance of survival.
FAQs about Alexandria
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