second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria, known as "The Pearl of the
Mediterranean", has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle
Eastern. Its ambiance and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the
country although it is actually only 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Cairo.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of
Greco-Roman Egypt. Its status as a beacon of culture was symbolized by Pharos
legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antonio,
Alexandria was also the center of learning in the ancient world.
But ancient Alexandria declined, and when Napoleon landed, he found a sparsely
populated fishing village. Visit Pompey's pillar, an 82 foot (25 meters) tall
red Aswan granite column constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletian.
Continue to the nearby Catacombs of Kom al-Shuqafa. A visit along the coast,
about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of Alexandria's old district, shows the
Corniche (Sea front) where many of the modern Alexandrian hotels are located
and also the magnificent Montaza Palace.