Alexandria, once one of the greatest cities in the world with an international population engaged in trading and commerce, was greatly affected by the upheavals in Egypt in recent years. Although it's the country's largest port, few cruise ships stop here. However, there is plenty to see and do in the city, and Cairo is three hours by road across the Nile Delta and just two hours by train.
What We Love
Remembering What It Was: Alexandria recalls so much ancient history and thrived until Nasser nationalized the industries and disallowed foreigners from ownership or operation, sending a key part of the population into exile. It’s of interest to see where the great lighthouse and legendary library were located and how profoundly Alexandria is remembered.
Bibiotheca Alexandrina: The distinctive modern library, with its building sloping down to the sea, is an important research center, while the ancient Egyptian collections and changing pubic exhibitions will be of interest to travelers who want to learn more about the city.
Best Known For
World Wonder: The Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood at the harbor entrance. Today, that spot is occupied by the 15th-century Citadel of Qaitbay. The fort is now a naval museum.
Montazah Palace: Built in 1892 for Abbas II, the last khedive (viceroy) of Egypt, the palace now functions as a museum, casino, and hotel, while the lovely gardens are well looked after, welcoming, and close to the beaches.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: The long story of Alexandria’s rise under the Greeks and the intervening foreign influences are powerful reminders of how a city that was once on top of the world can also fall precipitously into a rather ordinary place, yet retain hints of past vibrancy and richness.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Watch Out for Touts: Expect to be badgered by beggars and others trying to sell you something.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.