Around this time last year, we were just finishing our trip to Egypt and Jordan. Dream locations to visit, indeed! And just about the best time to go, it seems like.
We were there during the last week of spring and the first week of April – just when the spring season started. The weather was nice — cool in the morning, and just hot enough in the daytime. The wildflowers also prospered in this short timeframe, and if you couldn’t guess by this website’s name, I love seeing flowers blooming. I was very much expecting dirt and sand only, so these floral blooms were a very pleasant surprise to see.
For our first day in Egypt, we took a private tour booked via Viator to do a day trip to the ancient city of Alexandria. It was roughly 3 hours each way, with not much to look at outside the car window but the desert. I may have fallen asleep here and there…
But when we got to the city, we hit the ground running and visited all of the must-see spots.
(2 photos above) Surrounded among residential buildings is a site where one of the largest ancient monoliths stand. The pillar erected in 297 A.C. and spans a height of 82 feet.
While the pillar was actually dedicated to Emperor Diocletian, it was believed by crusaders that the head of Pompey was buried within the pillar, hence its current name.
On either side of the pillar are two sphinxes, Roman copies of the Great Sphinx at Giza, made earlier than the pillar.
ANCIENT ROMAN THEATER
During a mission to discover Alexander the Great’s tomb, archaeologists instead dug up a buried entertainment area.
Past the entrance stood a classic Roman Theater made of 13 rows in white marble. Columns lined the pathway from the theater to where the Roman baths once were. Only the outlines of the bath rooms remain.
But nearby (pictured on right) are the underground tunnels where workers would be able to work the heating system for the baths.
This fortress is built on the coast of the Mediterranean sea by Sultan Qaitbay during the 14th century to prevent the inevitable takeover of the city of Alexandria by the Ottoman Empire.
Prior to this citadel’s formation, this was the spot where the Pharos Lighthouse stood, before it met its demise by repeated earthquake damage.
There are quite a lot of views of the Mediterranean sea from this citadel. I still remember the feeling of the cool breeze the sea brought in.
LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA
While the original Library of Alexandria the Great has long been burned down, in its place stands the more modern version with sleek glass panels and rich wood flooring.
The day we went, it may have been a Sunday, the library was sadly closed so we could only see the exterior. But that in itself was worth the visit.
Today, Bibliotheca Alexandria hosts not just books but also 3 museums (Antiquities, Manuscript, and Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat), a planetarium, and a lab that restores and preserves ancient manuscripts.
This was a great day trip outside of Cairo, and I’m so glad we made the trek out there. Having one day to visit Alexandria seemed like plenty of time to hit all of the top historical sites that the city has to offer. With a 3-hour car drive back, we were pretty beat at the end of the day.