The Splendor of the History of Alexandria

History Of Alexandria

Updated On: March 10, 2024 by   Dina EssawyDina Essawy

Beyond doubt, Egypt is one of the most beautiful countries in the world; it holds many of the world’s acclaimed attractions. To the whole world, Egypt’s history revolves around its embracement of the Great Pyramids of Giza; on the other hand, other parts of Egypt are not taking the same hype yet clinch a superb history, including Alexandria.

There are a lot of different sites in that city of exquisite glory that reveal all about the history of Alexandria. Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt; above and beyond, it is one of the country’s most significant tourist, industrial, and economic centres. Alexandria has several religious landmarks and historical sites to be introduced to, alongside several cultural endpoints.

The Strategic Location of Alexandria

Despite being the second-largest city in Egypt, Alexandria is also characterised by being in a remarkable sight, for it lies in the north-central part of the country where the Mediterranean Sea is located on its corners, extending for almost 20 miles along its coast. It’s a worldwide notion that Egypt’s cities are among the best tourist attractions, and Alexandria is no exception; conversely, it is also a requisite trading and industrial centre for oil pipelines and natural gas.

That location is strategic; besides, it has contributed to founding the history of Alexandria and played a significant role in shaping it. What is more, Alexandria became the foremost international shipping centre and a substantial point in the trading industry during the 18th century because of its privilege of connecting two major seas- the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Inauguration of the History of Alexandria

Alexandria Beach, Egypt – The Mediterranean Sea

Alexander the Great was the founder of Alexandria; seemingly, the name explains it all. In 331 BBC, Alexandria appeared as the second prevailing city, right after Rome, of the Ancient World. Speaking of Alexandria’s history, a story behind the reason for the naming exists. However, it is apparent in this case that the founder was called Alexander and wanted to keep his name surviving long, even after he was gone.

Alexandria was related to Greek history back then; it was a momentous focal point for the civilisation of the Hellenists, so it can be a noteworthy linkage between the Nile Valley and Greece. Alexandria remained the capital of several civilisations among the Hellenists, including the Romans and Byzantines, for almost 1000 years. Still, it ceased being so during the Muslim overthrow of Egypt in AD 641. After the Muslim conquest, Alexandria was no longer the capital of Egypt.

The Tale of the Lost Cities

That exquisite city has recently changed so much and lost many of its momentous places that made up a lot of the history of Alexandria, including the eastern part of the city that used to possess several islands during ancient times. Still, they are no longer there, and that site is known as Abu Qir Bay.

Alexandria also used to embrace several noteworthy port cities that existed during the ancient era, including Canopus and Heracleion, which were recently discovered to have existed underwater throughout all those years.

Among the cities that existed during the ancient times but were lost along the way was Rhacotis which used to exist on the shore. Rhacotis is also said to have been the name of Alexandria before Alexander the Great came along; it was the name given by the city’s residents and the Greeks by that time.

Great Contributors to the History of Alexandria

Alexander the Great might have been the reason for launching the history of Alexandria; however, he wasn’t the only contributor to that great history as he departed.

Cleomenes preceded the completion of the city’s expansion. The city’s development went on by several other rulers until, in less than a hundred years, it became the largest city in the ancient world and, after a short while, it became the second-largest Greek city, right after Rome, for almost 1000 years.

The history of Alexandria embraces a wide range of diversity in cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Alexandria managed to be home to the Hellenists and the Greeks for many centuries; above and beyond, it was also home to the largest Jewish community in the world back then.

Alexandria indeed went through times of flourishment during ancient times; on the other hand, it also went through a rough patch where a significant portion of the city was massively destroyed due to wars and other natural disasters like the earthquake that hit Alexandria.

The Historical Sites of Alexandria

Alexandria, the city of exquisiteness, has been through a lot since its foundation, and that is precisely what makes history, being through many different phases. Seemingly, the history of Alexandria was no exception. Despite all the rough times the city had been through, It managed to keep some of its splendid landmarks and significant historical sites surviving.

They are clear evidence of the whole history of Alexandria since the time of its foundation. Alexandria had been home to several different ethnicities and religions; successively, those people have left traces behind that would keep their memories alive for as long as possible.

Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa

Kom El Shoqafa is an Arabic equivalent of Mounds of Shards. It is one of the historical landmarks that play a great part in the history of Alexandria. During the Middle Ages, it was deemed to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The mounds of shards were an entitled name to the site because that region was entirely of scattered objects and jars made of clay. On the other hand, that was not what that area was all about; it consists of a chain of tombs, objects, and statues, which is said to have been inspired by Hellenistic and Roman dominance.

Those catacombs have three different levels; however, only two are still accessible, for the third level is said to be completely soaked in the water.

Pompey’s PillarThe Splendor of the History of Alexandria

Pompey Pillar is a triumphal or a victory column- an erected monument whose primary purpose is to keep the memory of a battle that was won alive- it is deemed the most significant Roman memorial column to ever be constructed outside the borders of Rome. It is also another maker of the history of Alexandria, the elusive city.

It is listed as one of the ancient Roman monoliths and is known to be the largest. The pillar has always been one of Alexandria’s main highlights that attract tourists.

Some travellers gave the column that name, believing that the establishment of the pillar was in memory of the murder of Pompey- a Roman general whom the brother of Cleopatra had killed.

On the other hand, another story was revealed about the column after discovering the inscription on its base. Ruins were covering the engraved caption was covered, but it was cleared out. The caption reads that AD 291 was the time of its construction. It was a supporting statue of Emperor Diocletian.

Temple of Taposiris Magna

The Temple of Taposiris Magna is another exciting part of the history of Alexandria; it is located in Abusir, located on the western outskirts of Alexandria, within the borders of a city known as Borg Al Arab.

The temple was built in memory of Osiris and during the Ptolemy reign. Unfortunately, the temple is not there anymore; however, the outer walls and the pillars are still there, remaining as evidence that demonstrates the existence of that temple. Archaeologists and experts believed the temple’s primary purpose was to worship sacred animals; the theory was proven accurate when an animal cemetery was discovered near the temple.

Religious Landmarks that Shaped the History of Alexandria

The history of Alexandria is known to hold several cultures and ethnicities; above and beyond, it has always been home to different religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Alexandria was one of the first embracements for the community of Jews; it held the largest Jewish community around the world during the old times. Alexandria holds different places of worship dedicated to each religion of all three of them.


Alexandria contains a handful of mosques some of them date back to the 13th century and all of them are highly related to the history of Alexandria. These mosques include El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque; this mosque was built back in the 13th century, and it contains the tomb of the Sufi saint, whose name the mosque was called after.

It is located in a neighbourhood in Alexandria known as Bahary. Other mosques that can be found in Alexandria are Ali Ibn Abi Talib mosque, which is located in Somoha, and Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque.


The history of Alexandria also clamps a pool of churches together scattered around different neighbourhoods around the city. These churches include the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Egypt-based church belonging to the oriental orthodox family. The Greeks had lived in Alexandria for a long time, so no wonder they built a church in memory of the community they had established within that glorious city.

The church is known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Alexandria holds many other churches, including the Latin Catholic Church of Saint Catherine, Saint Mark Cathedral, Saint Anthony Church, Church of the Dormition, Prophet Elijah Church, The Saint Mark Church, Saint Nicholas Church, and a lot more.

SynagoguesThe Splendor of the History of Alexandria

For a very long time, Egypt, Alexandria in particular, served as an excellent attraction for the Jews. They even had their community and had a long history in Egypt, playing the most significant role in the history of Alexandria.

They built places for worship, but their number kept significantly dropping. By that time, people claimed there was a linkage between the Jews and the Zionists. The Jews came in contact with great oppression, so most of them fled away to other places other than Egypt, including Brazil, France, and Israel.

Consequently, very little was left of them, and the most crucial synagogue that still survives in Alexandria is the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue. This synagogue serves very few Jews who still exist in Egypt.

It is located on a street called Nabi Daniel and was built in 1354. The synagogue was severely destroyed during the French invasion; however, Muhammed Ali Pasha rebuilt it in 1850.

Tourist Attractions in Alexandria

Aside from the religious landmarks and historical sites of Alexandria, other factors helped in building up the history of Alexandria. Alexandria is also blessed with several sites that work as significant tourist attractions, including a great library, a citadel, and several museums.

Qaitbay CitadelThe Splendor of the History of Alexandria

The Citadel of Qaitbay made an appearance during the 15th century. Qaitbay Citadel exists on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and its primary purpose was defending the city. So, the fortress had a significant role in the history of Alexandria. It was built in 1477 AD by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qaitbay.

Qaitbay Citadel, Alexandria, Egypt – Egypt Tourism

Throughout the history of wars, the Citadel of Qaitbay has always been one of the strongest defensive fortresses in Egypt and the whole coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Citadel underwent several renovations during the reign of Muhammed Ali Pasha and further renovations during the 80’s.

Bibliotheca AlexandrinaThe Splendor of the History of Alexandria

Bibliotheca Alexandrina means the Library of Alexandria. It is a vast library that holds a significant number of books in different languages, including English, Arabic, and French; some of them tell tales about Alexandria’s history, and a lot more hold different genres.

The library plays a significant role in the history of Alexandria, for it has been around since its first establishment in ancient times, in the 3rd century BC during the Ptolemaic Reign. Ptolemy I Soter, who was deemed to be the successor of Alexander the Great, was the initiator of the library’s construction. The Library was burnt down and suffered great destruction; however, it was reconstructed in 2002.

The Museums of Alexandria

Museums are great shapers of culture and history; thus, a significant part of the history of Alexandria can be divulged within the walls of its remarkable museums. The most significant museums in Alexandria are the Alexandria National Museum, the Royal Jewelry Museum, and the Graeco-Roman Museum.

The Alexandria National Museum

The Alexandria National Museum is one of the newest museums ever constructed in Alexandria’s history. It was established by Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, in 2003. It is located on a street known as Tariq Al-Horreya Street. The building was formerly used as a house for the embassy of the United States.

The museum holds a remarkable collection of artefacts. They reveal much about Egypt’s history, in general, and Alexandria’s history, in particular.

The Royal Jewelry Museum

This museum is another one of the few established in modern times. Its construction took place back in 1986. The museum was not open to the public until 2010. It had undergone more than a few restorations and developments. Zizinia, one of Alexandria’s well-known neighbourhoods, is the location of the splendid museum. The museum’s name tells a lot about what it may have held, such as pieces of jewellery. The Royal Jewelry Museum unravel the tales of Alexandria’s history. It houses significant pieces that date back to the reign of Muhammed Ali Pasha.

The Greco-Roman Museum

Indeed, the Romans and the Greeks shaped a significant portion of the history of Alexandria. They left room for the anticipation that there must be a building that houses most of their tales and history. That is why the Greco-Roman Museum is there; it holds pieces that date back to the 3rd century, known as the Greco-Roman era.

Also, Check Ulster Museum Belfast.

That is not where the history of Alexandria stops. It is a long timeline full of exciting tales and stories in that splendid city.

If you enjoyed reading about the historical sites of Alexandria, you may as well like to check out Belfast City Hall.

Also, check out our different Egypt Blogs, such as Famous Haunted Houses in Egypt | Egypt’s Hidden Gems | North Coast Egypt | Alexandria Beach | Places to Visit in Cairo Egypt

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