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Alexandria's waterfront
A 1721 engraving of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

Alexandria (Arabic: الإسكندرية; Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρεια, Coptic: Ⲣⲁⲕⲟϯ or ⲁⲗⲉⲝⲁⲛⲇⲣⲓⲁ) is the second largest city in Egypt and the largest city on the Mediterranean coast. It lies at the western edge of the Nile River delta. Founded in c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great, Alexandria grew rapidly and became a major centre of Hellenic civilization, eventually replacing Memphis, in present-day Greater Cairo, as Egypt's capital. Called the "Bride of the Mediterranean" internationally, Alexandria is a popular tourist destination and an important industrial centre due to its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.

Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library, the largest in the ancient world; and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the intellectual and cultural centre of the ancient Mediterranean for much of the Hellenistic age and late antiquity.It was at one time the largest city in the ancient world before being eventually overtaken by Rome.


Totall Discourse (1632)[edit]

William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse Of the Rare Aduentures and painefull Peregrinations of long nineteene Yeares Trauayles, from Scotland, to the most Famous Kingdomes in Europe, Asia, and Affrica (London: Nicholas Okes, 1632), VII
  • Alexandria is the second Port in all Turky: It was of old a most renowned City, and was built by Alexander the great, but now is greatly decayed, as may appeare by the huge ruines therein: It hath two havens, the one whereof is strongly fortified with two Castles, which defend both it selfe and also Porto vecchio: The fields about the Towne are sandy, which ingender an infectious ayre, especially in the moneth of August, and is the reason why strangers fall into bloody fluxes and other heavy sicknesses. In my staying here, I was advised by a Ragusan Consul, to keepe my stomacke hot, to abstaine from eating of fruit, and to live soberly, with a temperate diet: The rule of which government, I strove diligently to observe, so did I also in all my travells prosecute the like course of a small diet, and was often too small against my will, by the meanes whereof (praised be God) I fell never sicke till my returne to France.
    This Citty is mightily impoverished since the Trading of Spices that were brought through the red Sea, to Ægypt, and so over Land to Alexandria & its Sea-port: Whence the Venetian dispersed them over all Christendome; but are now brought home by the backe-side of Affricke, by the Portugals, English, and Flemings, which maketh both Venice, and Alexandria fare the worse, for want of their former Trafficke, and commerce in these Southerne parts: whence Venice grew the mother nurse to all Europe for these Commodities, but now altogether spoyled thereof, and decayed by our Westerne Adventures, in a longer course for these Indian soyles.
    • The Towne of Alexandria.
  • This Citty was a place of great Merchandize, and in the Nycen Councell was ordayned to be one of the foure Patriarchall seas; the other three are Antiochia, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Heere in Alexandria was that famous Library which Ptolomeus Philadelphus filled with 700000. volumes: It was he that also caused the 72. Interpreters, to translate the Bible: Over against Alexandria, is the little Ile Pharos, in the which for the commodity of Saylers the aforesaid King builded a watch-towre of white Marble; being of so marvellous a height, that it was accounted one of the seven wonders of the world: the other six, being the Pyramides, the Tombe Mausolaea, which Helicarnassus Queene of Caria caused build in honour of her Husband: the Temple of Ephesus, the Wals of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Statue of Jupiter Olympicus at Elis in Greece, which was made by Phidias, an excellent worke-master in Gold and Ivory, being in height 60. Cubites.
    • The foure Patriarchall Seas.
  • Expecting fifteene dayes heere in Alexandria for passage, great was the heate the French men and I indured, in so much that in the day time, we did nought but in a low roome, besprinckle the water upon our selves, and all the night lye on the top or platforme of the house, to have the ayre; ...
    • The fabulous Countrey of Syrene.

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