Look beyond the pyramids and head to Egypt’s second largest town Alexandria that gives you a potpourri of interesting cultural, culinary and captivating experiences.
Locals refer to the city as ‘Alex’. Alexandria located in north-central Egypt was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. and is a port city that has several historical sites including museums, charming old buildings and old gardens that will take you back in time. Here is a handy guide of things to see, do and eat on your next visit.
The center of the Hellenistic Civilization, you can start your exploration at the temple of Serapeum, a site of historical importance. It was destroyed in 391 by the Romans but has the Pompey’s Pillar surrounded by two big sphinxes which are worth seeing. A visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina built in 2002 is an ode to antiquity and is a cultural center with three museums, four art galleries, a planetary and a laboratory to resurrect old manuscripts. For museum stops, the Alexandria National Museum housed in a restored Italian palace that has 1800 artifacts from the Hellenistic period and the Royal Jewelry Museum, the former palace of the Egyptian royal family, where you can learn about the royal family history are good stops. The Montazah Palace Gardens built for King Farouk, has a beautiful garden with rare plants and trees and has a stunning top view of the Mediterranean Sea. The stunning architecture here is something you can admire and also visit the other historical buildings in the surrounding area. Do take time to pay obeisance at the El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque dedicated to Alexandrine Sufi saint el-Mursi Abul Abbas. His tomb is also located on the premises and is one of the most spiritually revered places here.
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, a swim is one of the best ways to enjoy the pristine waters, weather permitting. Another activity that is good fun is visiting the Souq District located at the western end of Midan Tahrir. This is the place where locals shop and you can too. Apart from being the best place to pick souvenirs, this place has several local cafés and shops that are worth a visit. Remember to enjoy the sights along the famed coastline El Corniche that is dotted with several hotels.
Food in Egypt is a delight and Alexandria does not disappoint. The beans are cooked with a specific way and is called ‘Fool’ and is a must try. The local Fish Market offers some fine seafood that comes from the sea to your plate and there are a variety of fish preparations, shrimps, calamari dishes that are a must try. Also sample one of the best ice creams here locally called Gelati that can be teamed with honey and rice pudding
This story first appeared in Salam Air’s inflight magazine Feb 19 issue here:Alexandria