Alexandria is a city with a tremendous history . It was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and became Egypt's capital until 641 AD. It has also been home to the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the seven wonders) and the famous Library of Alexandria (the foremost library of its time).
Most of this ancient history is buried beneath modern Alexandria, which is a waterfront city with a Corniche that spreads out over 20 km of coast, yet the city only goes around 3 km deep. Alexandria also serves as the main base of exploration for the Mediterranean Coast region.
If much of ancient Alexandria is buried, then what is there to see in Alexandria? Well, the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a wonder in itself, with room for 8 million books and 3000 readers. The Qaitbay Citadel is an important 15th century defensive fortress that was built on the spot where the lighthouse once stood. Alexandria also has the atmospheric Catacombs - nearly 2000 years old and the largest discovered Roman burial site in Egypt.
Some people think Alex doesn't live up to its past. No more pharos, tomb of Alexander, or even the multi-cultured feel the place had up until the 1950s. But, there is enough of the old Alex for the place to be relaxing and charming (especially compared to Cairo). The corniche area from the Fort to the new library is lovely to walk down. The Cecil hotel in the main square still has colonial charm and there are some lovely restaurants and cafes in this area. The Roman catacombs are also worth a visit.
A visit to Alexandria is not complete without a visit to the Catacombs of Kom Ash-Shuqqafa. Open from 9am to 4pm cost is about 12 Egyptian Pound. Well worth it. Booking is not required but more information can be obtained on 484 5800. Cameras are not permitted and bags need to be left at the ticket counter while you descend into the unknown.