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February 21st 2017
Published: June 16th 2017
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Alexandria stretches along 12 miles of the Mediterranean coast and is the second largest city in Egypt. It was founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great and its rich history includes Cleopatra and Anthony and a litany of Roman Emperors. The city grew to be the largest of the known world at the time. Alexandria was sacked and burned during the civil war that followed the takeover by Julius Caesar. For more of it history go to

The city today has the potential to be quite beautiful. Fort Qaitbey still remains as does the Pillar of Pompey but little else of its ancient history remains. The new library is spectacular and also houses several museums of art and antiquities as well as a special Sadat Memorial Exhibit.

Fort Quitbey is a fortress built in the 1480's by Sultan Quitbey on the site of Pharos Lighthouse, using stones from this once grand structure. The original and oldest mosque in Alexandria is still intact except for the minaret which was blown clean off by the British in 1882. From the upper ramparts you get great views of the city.

The Pillar of Pompey is another ancient site in Alexandria. It has
nothing to do with Pompey and no one seems to know for sure why it is so named. It was built in 297 AD in tribute to the Roman emperor Diocletian. The base of the pillar has the inscription: To the most just of Emperors, the divine protector of Alexandria Diocletian the invincible: Posthumous prefect of Egypt. The pillar comes from the Temple of Serapis and is made of red Aswan marble standing 89 feet high.

The Library of Alexandria was reborn in 2002. It is not just an extraordinarily beautiful building; it is also a vast complex where the arts, history, philosophy, and science come together. Its mission is to offer a myriad of activities to make it a place for open discussion, dialogue, and understanding. It is a magnificent place and I could have spent days there!!!!

On the way back to Cairo we stopped at the Deir Anba Bishoi monastery (Monastery of St. Bishoi) at Wadi Natrun. It is the most famous monastery of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria named after Bishoi. Today the monastery still houses the supposed intact body of Bishoi. The complex is very large and houses 5 churches, living quarters for some 160
resident monks, an old bakery and mill house etc.

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