Alexandria is the second largest city and the second largest metropolitan area in Egypt, with a population of 3.5 million people. It is also the country’s largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt's imports and exports, and window onto the Mediterranean Sea. It serves as an important industrial center due to its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez, and also as a notable tourist resort.
The city became a major center of the international shipping industry since the late 19the century and also one of the world’s most important trading centers due to its hefty profits from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, as we as from the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton. Because of this, it became the second most powerful city of the ancient world after Rome.
What to see & do
There are plenty of historical attractions in Alexandria. Some of the top destinations that one should visit are the Citadel of Qaitbay, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and the city itself; Cemetery of Mostafa Kamel, which includes four tombs dating from the second century BC, which are excellently preserved and are beautifully decorated; Kom el-Shouqafa, where the village and fishing port of Rhakotis lies, the oldest part of Alexandria that predates Alexander the Great; the ancient monument of Pompey's Pillar, a 25-meter-high granite column constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 297; Roman Theatre, which was built in the 2nd century AD; museums like Alexandria National Museum, which houses more than 1,800 archeological pieces exhibited chronologically; Graeco-Roman Museum; Museum of Fine Arts; and National Institute For Oceanography & Fisheries; religious sites such as El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque and Attarine Mosque.
How to get around within Alexandria
Alexandria is a long stretch of a city, but don’t worry since you can get anywhere by using the local transportation available along the Corniche. The city’s yellow and black taxis are a cheap, good way to travel, although taxis will uniformly refuse to use meters so always negotiate the fare before getting in. You can also book a taxi by phone. These are more expensive than the regular taxis, but are considerably much better. The city has a creaky, slow but extremely cheap tram system – an ancient one – that dates back to 1860. The network is split into the interurban Ramleh Lines (Tram el-Raml) and the City Lines (Tram el-Madina). These two meet at Raml Station, right at the heart of Alex. There are also a variety of local bus services, which have significantly improved in the past few years. In addition, there are also the 14-seater mini-buses, which work on hop-and-go basis.
How to get there
Alexandria’s main airport is Borg el Arab Airport, which mainly serves Middle-Eastern and North African destinations, as well as Milano-Bergamo (Air Arabia), Athens (Egypt Air), Istanbul and Beyrouth. However, the airport’s inconvenient location, which is about 45 km (23 mi) to the south-west of Alexandria, limits the options to get to the airport. In most cases, one can take a taxi or take one of the two daily buses that go to and from the airport. Other ways of getting is are by bus, via numerous bus companies that ply to the city, like Golden Arrow, West Delta, Super Jet, Pullman, and El Gouna; by train, via frequent services from Ramses Station; by car, via the Agriculture road or and Desert road; by boat, via a weekly passenger ferry from Venice to Alexandrias, via Tartus in Syria aboard the Visemar Lines.
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