Friday, December 30, 2011

$1...$1....Part 2 - Alexandria

The city of Alexandria was founded in about 330 B.C. by Alexander the Great.  it was the capital for a thousand years before the Muslim conquest and it was moved to the Cairo area.  It is known for the ancient library and lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Today it is Egypt's second largest city and its largest port.
On the way to the bus we were again offered items for $1....$1.  I think those are the first words children learn in Egypt.  But they are trying to make a living, so I do succumb and purchase some postcards and book marks from the least pushy vendors.  The streets of Alexandria are just as crowded as Cairo, some closed off to vehicles and outdoor markets spill out into the streets.
Our first stop is an ancient Roman excavation.  The reason the theater was uncovered was that that fill was needed for a nearby building site.  The excavations revealed the ruins.  The complex is in the heart of Alexandria and surrounded by development.  Most of the theater is below the current level of the city from the accumulations of thousands of years of debris and dirt.  Once down the level of the theater, there is a wide avenue, the theater and Roman baths that are still being excavated, and no entrance was allowed.
The next stop was the Alexandria Museum, located in one of the fashionable older neighborhoods.  The museum is housed in a 1920s Italianate villa.  It traces the history of the city and its growth from ancient times to present.  There are exhibits of Roman and Egyptian artifacts and items from the last century of the privileged class.  Pottery shards, mosaic floor sections, mummies and burial dolls are displayed among the rooms of the mansion and its basement.

Upon leaving the museum we stopped by the new library of Alexandria.  The plans are to replicate the ancient library with the most volumes.  After a few photos on to the Qaitbay Citadel, a fort that guarded the harbor entrance.  Located on a narrow strip of land that helps form the harbor, the fort was erected in the 15th Century to defend the city.  Its thick stone walls were fell prey to cannons of the British fleet  and were repaired and the fort became a refuge for King Farouk.  After the revolution on 1952 it became a museum as it still remains.
So ends the first visit to the African continent.  Back to the cruise terminal in Alexandria.  The approach is lined with small stalls for last minute purchases, and the building itself is new.  Inside it is quite spectacular, with a soaring dome above and arches surrounding the arrival area. on the Pacific Princess to continue the cruise.  If you need help in planning a cruise contact Travel Themes and Dreams, the experienced agents can help with all your travel needs.

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