Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alexandria is a popular tourist attraction

Alexandria: A city of art and culture is Situated in the northern part of Egypt on the coast lies Alexandria.

In ancient times, Alexandria was one of the world’s most famous cities. Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria was the main Greek city in Egypt and then came under Roman influence until 430 BC. It remained Egypt's capital for nearly a thousand years, until the advent of Islam in 641 AD.

The city is famous for its Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Standing between 115 and 150 meters high, it was among the highest structures of the world — second only to the Pyramids. The city is peppered with Roman and Greek buildings and ruins.

Another thing Alexandria is famous for is its tram system, which consists of 38 stations. It is one of only three non-heritage tram systems in the world that use double-deck trams cars. The other two are in Blackpool, England, and Hong Kong.

Buildings in Alexandria are pieces of art in themselves. Each building tells a story of the people who made the city their home and the architects that built and then subsequently renovated them. When renovating buildings, people tend to preserve the old Roman style by carrying out basic repairs and adding color.

The streets of Alexandria are like open-air museums due to the number of art pieces and sculptures that overwhelm streets and the seafront. The fence surrounding the city’s armed forces hospital is an open museum in itself featuring different paintings on marble. These paintings were done by art students in the city’s colleges and universities.

Friday nights in Alexandria are marked for open-air weddings where visitors can see newly married couples making merry along with guests in streets for all to see.

“Many people here are poor and cannot afford a ballroom to celebrate their weddings. They find it cheaper and much more enjoyable to go downtown to the seafront to gather with their loved ones and enjoy an affordable night out,” said a taxi driver.

Fifteen miles east of Alexandria along the coast lies El-Montazah Park and a large number of modern hotels. A favored tourist spot, El-Montazah is a big plot of land consisting of gardens constructed during the reign of the Khedive Abbas II. The royal family's habit of gathering in the area during the hot summers continues till this day with wealthy Egyptians and tourists also frequenting it.

On the other side of the waterfront and in a quieter part of the city lies the Bibliotheca Alexandrina that was inaugurated in 2003 near the site of an old library called the Royal Library of Alexandria. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is situated right across the street from Alexandria University and encompasses a small cafeteria, making it the ideal place for students to study.

No comments: