Alexandria Egypt has a very impressive and storied past, beginning with its founding by Alexander the Great around 331 B.C. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Mediterranean and affectionately referred to as Alex by locals, Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city and the second largest city in Egypt.
During the Hellenistic period, it was home to both the legendary Great Library of Alexandria and the Pharos, a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexandria was the setting for the stormy love story between Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony as well as a cosmopolitan gathering spot for intellectuals in the early twentieth century.
The city has definitely lost some of the grandeur of its past and today’s Alexandria is filled with concrete apartment buildings, office buildings, and traffic-filled streets. However, with a bit of searching travelers can still find bits of Alexandria’s glorious past.
Best time of year to visit Alexandria Egypt?
Alexandria, unlike most of Egypt, has a Mediterranean climate, with hot humid summers and mild rainy winters. It is humid throughout the year, but summers are particularly humid during the daytimes and temperatures can be very hot although the sea breezes can help.
Many Egyptians vacation in Alexandria during the summer to escape the heat in Cairo and surrounds. Winters can be rainy and cool.
The best time to visit Alexandria in terms of both weather and crowds is in the Spring (March-early June) and Autumn (September-November).
Some tips for getting the most out of your trip to Alexandria?
First, as in much of Egypt (and Africa) having a guide is really useful as there are few information signs in English and it can be difficult to really appreciate a museum or archaeological site without some proper background information. We had a Egyptologist guide with us on our tour which really helped us get more out of some of the sites. If you are not interested in a guide or one is a bit outside you budget, you might consider buying a good guidebook to Egypt to help you as you tour the main sights.
Lighthouse of Alexandria & Citadel of Qaitbay
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, often referred to as The Pharos or the Pharos of Alexandria, was a large lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 BC and is estimated to have been about 140 meters tall (450 feet).
It was constructed of stone, probably white-washed limestone (although some say marble), and light was produced at the top by a furnace to guide ships safely into Alexandria harbor. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was one of the tallest manmade structures in the world during its time.
Unfortunately you can’t see the great Lighthouse of Alexandria today as it was badly damaged by earthquakes and by 1323 AD was abandoned, although it survived until about 1480 AD when the remaining stones of the tower were used in the construction of the Citadel of Qaitbay. The Citadel of Qaitbay sits on the same spot where the Lighthouse once stood.