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Alexandria

›› History Of Alexandria
›› Climate
›› Weather Data of Alexandria
›› Layout of Ancient Cities
›› Brucheum
›› The Jewish quarter
›› Rhakotis
›› Ancient Remains
›› Antiquities
›› Religion
›› Christianity
›› Islam
›› Judaism
›› Education
›› Libraries
›› Museums
›› Sports

History of Alexandria
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in April 331 BC as Ἀλεξάνδρεια (Alexándreia). Alexander's chief architect for the project was Democrats. Alexandria was intended to supersede Naucratis as a Hellenistic center in Egypt, and to be the link between Greece and the rich Nile Valley. An Egyptian city,Rhakotis, already existed on the shore, and later gave its name to Alexandria in the Egyptian language (Egypt. Ra'qedyet). It continued to exist as the Egyptian quarter of the city. A few months after the foundation, Alexander left Egypt for the East and never returned to his city. After Alexander departed, his viceroy,Cleomenes, continued the expansion. Following a struggle with the other successors of Alexander, his general Ptolemy succeeded in bringing Alexander's body to Alexandria.

Although Cleomenes was mainly in charge of seeing to Alexandria's continuous development, the Heptastadion and the mainland quarters seem to have been primarily Ptolemaic work. Inheriting the trade of ruined Tyre and becoming the center of the new commerce between Europe and the Arabian and Indian East, the city grew in less than a generation to be larger than Carthage. In a century, Alexandria had become the largest city in the world and for some centuries more, was second only to Rome. It became the main Greek city of Egypt, with an extraordinary mix of Greeks from many cities and backgrounds.

Alexandria was not only a center of Hellenism but was also home to the largest Jewish community in the world. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was produced there. The early Ptolemies kept it in order and fostered the development of its museum into the leading Hellenistic center of learning (Library of Alexandria) but were careful to maintain the distinction of its population's three largest ethnicities: Greek, Jewish, and Egyptian.

From this division arose much of the later turbulence, which began to manifest itself under Ptolemy Philopater who reigned from 221–204 BC. The reign of Ptolemy VIII Physconfrom 144–116 BC was marked by purges and civil warfare. The city passed formally under Roman jurisdiction in 80 BC, according to the will of Ptolemy Alexander but only after it had been under Roman influence for more than a hundred years. It was captured by Julius Caesar in 47 BC during a Roman intervention in the domestic civil war between king Ptolemy XIII and his advisors, and usurper queen Cleopatra VII. It was finally captured by Octavian, future emperor Augustus on 1 August 30 BC, with the name of the month later being changed to august to commemorate his victory.

In AD 115, vast parts of Alexandria were destroyed during the Greek-Jewish civil wars, which gave Hadrianand his architect, Decriannus, an opportunity to rebuild it. In 215 the emperor Caracalla visited the city and, because of some insulting satiresthat the inhabitants had directed at him, abruptly commanded his troops to put to death all youths capable of bearing arms. On 21 July 365, Alexandria was devastated by a tsunami (365 Crete earthquake), an event two hundred years later still annually commemorated as "day of horror".

In the late 4th century, persecution of pagans by newly Christian Romans had reached new levels of intensity. In 391, the PatriarchTheophilus destroyed all pagan temples in Alexandria under orders from Emperor Theodosius I. The Brucheum and Jewish quarters were desolate in the 5th century. On the mainland, life seemed to have centered in the vicinity of the Serapeum and Caesareum, both which became Christian churches. The Pharos and Heptastadium quarters, however, remained populous and were left intact In 619, Alexandria fell to the Sassanid Persians. Although the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius recovered it in 629, in 641 the Arabs under the general Amr ibn al-As captured it after a siege that lasted fourteen months.

Alexandria figured prominently in the military operations of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798. French troops stormed the city on 2 July 1798, and it remained in their hands until the arrival of a British expedition in 1801. The British won a considerable victory over the French at the Battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801, following which they besieged the city, which fell to them on 2 September 1801. Mohammed Ali, the Ottoman Governor of Egypt, began rebuilding the city around 1810, and by 1850, Alexandria had returned to something akin to its former glory. In July 1882, the city came under bombardment from British naval forcesand was occupied. In July 1954, the city was a target of an Israeli bombing campaign that later became known as the Lavon Affair. Only a few months later, Alexandria's Mansheyya Square was the site of a failed assassination attempt on Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Climate
Alexandria has an arid desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), but the prevailing north wind, blowing across the Mediterranean, gives the city a different climate from the desert hinterland. The city's climate shows Mediterranean (Csa) characteristics, namely mild, variably rainy winters and hot, dry summers which, at times, can be very humid. January and February are the coolest months with daily maximum temperatures typically ranging from 12°C (53°F) to 18°C (64°F). Alexandria experiences violent storms, rain and sometimes hail during the cooler months. July and August are the hottest and most humid months of the year with an average daily maximum temperature of 30°C (87°F). Autumn and spring are the ideal seasons to visit Alexandria, with temperatures averaging about 22°C (71°F).

Weather Data of Alexandria

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average high °C (°F)

18.1
(65)

19.3
(67)

20.9
(70)

23.0
(73)

25.5
(78)

28.6
(83)

29.7
(85)

30.4
(87)

29.6
(85)

27.6
(82)

23.7
(75)

19.8
(68)

Daily mean °C (°F)

13.75
(57)

14.3
(58)

15.85
(61)

18.7
(66)

21.55
(71)

24.45
(76)

26.25
(79)

26.75
(80)

25.45
(78)

22.7
(73)

19.2
(67)

15.35
(60)

Average low °C (°F)

9.1
(48)

9.3
(49)

10.8
(51)

13.4
(56)

16.6
(62)

20.3
(69)

22.8
(73)

23.1
(74)

21.3
(70)

17.8
(64)

14.3
(58)

10.6
(51)

Precipitation mm (inches)

55.2
(2.17)

29.2
(1.15)

14.3
(0.56)

3.6
(0.14)

1.3
(0.05)

0.01
(0)

0.03
(0)

0.1
(0)

0.8
(0.03)

9.4
(0.37)

31.7
(1.25)

52.7
(2.07)

Avg. precipitation days

11.0

8.9

6.0

1.9

1.0

0.04

0.04

0.04

0.2

2.9

5.4

9.5



Layout of Ancient Cities

Greek Alexandria was divided into three regions:

Brucheum
The Royal or Greek quarter, forming the most magnificent portion of the city. In Roman times Brucheum was enlarged by the addition of an official quarter, making four regions in all. The city was laid out as a grid of parallel streets, each of which had an attendant subterranean canal

The Jewish quarter
forming the northeast portion of the city.
Rhakotis
The old city of Rhakotis that had been absorbed into Alexandria. It was occupied chiefly by Egyptians. (from Coptic Rakotə "Alexandria").

Two main streets, lined with colonnades and said to have been each about 60 metres (200 feet) wide, intersected in the center of the city, close to the point where the Sema (or Soma) of Alexander (his Mausoleum) rose. This point is very near the present mosque of Nebi Daniel; and the line of the great East–West "Canopic" street, only slightly diverged from that of the modern Boulevard de Rosette (now Sharia Fouad). Traces of its pavement and canal have been found near the Rosetta Gate, but remnants of streets and canals were exposed in 1899 by Germanexcavators outside the east fortifications, which lie well within the area of the ancient city.

Alexandria consisted originally of little more than the island of Pharos, which was joined to the mainland by a mole nearly a mile long (1260 m) and called the Heptastadion ("seven stadia" — a stadium was a Greek unit of length measuring approximately 180 m). The end of this abutted on the land at the head of the present Grand Square, where the "Moon Gate" rose. All that now lies between that point and the modern "Ras al-Tiin" quarter is built on the silt which gradually widened and obliterated this mole. The "Ras al-Tiin" quarter represents all that is left of the island of Pharos, the site of the actual lighthouse having been weathered away by the sea. On the east of the mole was the Great Harbor, now an open bay; on the west lay the port of Eunostos, with its inner basin Kibotos, now vastly enlarged to form the modern harbor.

In Strabo's time, (latter half of 1st century BC) the principal buildings were as follows, enumerated as they were to be seen from a ship entering the Great Harbor.

The Royal Palaces, filling the northeast angle of the town and occupying the promontory of Lochias, which shut in the Great Harbor on the east. Lochias (the modern Pharillon) has almost entirely disappeared into the sea, together with the palaces, the "Private Port," and the island of Antirrhodus. There has been a land subsidence here, as throughout the northeast coast of Africa. The Great Theater, on the modern Hospital Hill near the Ramleh station. This was used by Caesar as a fortress, where he withstood a siege from the city mob after the battle of Pharsalus
The Poseidon, or Temple of the Sea God, close to the Theatre
The Timonium built by Marc Antony
The Emporium (Exchange)
The Apostases (Magazines)
The Navalia (Docks), lying west of the Timonium, along the seafront as far as the mole
Behind the Emporium rose the Great Caesareum, by which stood the two great obelisks, which become known as "Cleopatra's Needles", and were transported to New York City and London. This temple became, in time, the Patriarchal Church, though some ancient remains of the temple have been discovered. The actual Caesareum, the parts not eroded by the waves, lies under the houses lining the new seawall.

The Gymnasium and the Palaestra are both inland, near the Boulevard de Rosette in the eastern half of the town; sites unknown. The Temple of Saturn; site unknown. The Mausolea of Alexander (Soma) and the Ptolemies in one ring-fence, near the point of intersection of the two main streets. The Musaeum with its famous Library and theater in the same region; site unknown. The Serapeum, the most famous of all Alexandrian temples. Strabo tells us that this stood in the west of the city; and recent discoveries go far as to place it near "Pompey's Pillar" which was an independent monument erected to commemorate Diocletian's siege of the city.

The names of a few other public buildings on the mainland are known, but there is little information as to their actual position. None, however, are as famous as the building that stood on the eastern point of Pharos island. There, the The Great Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, reputed to be 138 metres (450 ft) high, was sited. The first Ptolemy began the project, and the second Ptolemy completed it, at a total cost of 800 talents. It took 12 years to complete and served as a prototype for all later lighthousesin the world. The light was produced by a furnace at the top and the tower was built mostly with solid blocks of limestone. The Pharos lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, making it the second longest surviving ancient wonder next to the Great Pyramid of Giza. A temple of Hephaestus also stood on Pharos at the head of the mole.

In the first century, the population of Alexandria contained over 180,000 adult male citizens (from a papyrus dated 32 CE), in addition to a large number of freedmen, women, children, and slaves. Estimates of the total population range from 500,000 to over 1,000,000, making it one of the largest cities ever built before the Industrial Revolution and the largest pre-industrial city that was not an imperial capital.

Ancient Remains
Very little of the ancient city has survived into the present day. Much of the royal and civic quarters sank beneath the harbor due to earthquake subsidence, and the rest has been built over in modern times.

"Pompey's Pillar" is one of the best-known ancient monuments still standing in Alexandria today. It is located on Alexandria's ancient acropolis - a modest hill located adjacent to the city's Arab cemetery - and was originally part of a temple colonnade. Including its pedestal, it is 30 m (99 ft) high; the shaft is of polished red granite, 2.7 meters in diameter at the base, tapering to 2.4 meters at the top. The shaft is 88 feet high made out of a single piece of granite. This would be 132 cubic meters or approximately 396 tons. Pompey's Pillar may have been erected using the same methods that were used to erect the ancient obelisks.

The Romans had cranes but they weren't strong enough to lift something this heavy. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehrner conducted several obelisk erecting experiments including a successful attempt to erect a 25 ton obelisk in 1999. This followed two experiments to erect smaller obelisks and two failed attempts to erect a 25 ton obelisk. The structure was plundered and demolished in the 4th century when a bishop decreed that Paganism must be eradicated. "Pompey's Pillar" is a misnomer, as it has nothing to do with Pompey, having been erected in 293 for Diocletian, possibly in memory of the rebellion of Domitius Domitianus. Beneath the acropolis itself are the subterranean remains of the Serapeum, where the mysteries of the god Serapis were enacted, and whose carved wall niches are believed to have provided overflow storage space for the ancient Library.

Alexandria's catacombs, known as Kom al-Soqqafa, are a short distance southwest of the pillar, consist of a multi-level labyrinth, reached via a large spiral staircase, and featuring dozens of chambers adorned with sculpted pillars, statues, and other syncretic Romano-Egyptian religious symbols, burial niches and sarcophagi, as well as a large Roman-style banquet room, where memorial meals were conducted by relatives of the deceased. The catacombs were long forgotten by the citizens until they were discovered by accident in the 1800s.

The most extensive ancient excavation currently being conducted in Alexandria is known as Kom al-Dikka, and it has revealed the ancient city's well-preserved theater, and the remains of its Roman-era baths.

Antiquities
Persistent efforts have been made to explore the antiquities of Alexandria. Encouragement and help have been given by the local ArchaeologicalSociety, and by many individuals, notably Greeks proud of a city which is one of the glories of their national history.

The past and present directors of the museum have been enabled from time to time to carry out systematic excavations whenever opportunity is offered; D. G. Hogarth made tentative researches on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in 1895; and a German expedition worked for two years (1898–1899). But two difficulties face the would-be excavator in Alexandria: lack of space for excavation and the underwater location of some areas of interest.

Since the great and growing modern city stands immediately over the ancient one, it is almost impossible to find any considerable space in which to dig, except at enormous cost. Also, the general subsidence of the coast has submerged the lower-lying parts of the ancient town under water. This underwater section, containing many of the most interesting sections of the Hellenistic city, including the palace quarter, is still being extensively investigated by the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team. It raised a noted head of Caesarion. These are being opened up to tourists, to some controversy. The spaces that are most open are the low grounds to northeast and southwest, where it is practically impossible to get below the Roman strata.

The most important results were those achieved by Dr. G. Botti, late director of the museum, in the neighborhood of "Pompey's Pillar", where there is a good deal of open ground. Here substructures of a large building or group of buildings have been exposed, which are perhaps part of the Serapeum. Nearby, immense catacombs and columbaria have been opened which may have been appendages of the temple. These contain one very remarkable vault with curious painted reliefs, now artificially lit and open to visitors.

The objects found in these researches are in the museum, the most notable being a great basalt bull, probably once an object of cult in the Serapeum. Other catacombs and tombs have been opened in Kom al-Shoqqafa (Roman) and Ras al-Tiin (painted).

The German excavation team found remains of a Ptolemaic colonnade and streets in the north-east of the city, but little else. Hogarth explored part of an immense brick structure under the mound of Kom al-Dikka, which may have been part of the Paneum, the Mausolea, or a Roman fortress.

The making of the new foreshore led to the dredging up of remains of the Patriarchal Church; and the foundations of modern buildings are seldom laid without some objects of antiquity being discovered. The wealth underground is doubtlessly immense; but despite all efforts, there is not much for antiquarians to see in Alexandria outside the museum and the neighborhood of "Pompey's Pillar". The native tomb-robbers, well-sinkers, dredgers, and the like, however, come upon valuable objects from time to time, most of which find their way into private collections.

Religion

Christianity
After Rome, Alexandria was considered the major seat of Christianity in the world. The Pope of Alexandria was the second among equals, second only to the bishop of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire until 430. The Church of Alexandria had jurisdiction over the entire continent of Africa. After the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., the Church of Alexandria was split between the Miaphysites and the Melkites. The Miaphysites went on to constitute what is known today as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. TheMelkites went on the constitute what is known today as the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. In the 19th century, Catholic and Protestant missionaries converted some of the adherents of the Orthodox churches to their respective faiths.

Today, the patriarchal seat of the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church is Saint Mark Cathedral in Ramleh. The most important Coptic Orthodox churches in Alexandria include Pope Cyril I Church in Cleopatra, Saint Georges Church in Sporting, Saint Mark & Pope Peter I Church in Sidi Bishr, Saint Mary Church in Assafra, Saint Mary Church in Gianaclis, Saint Mina Church in Fleming, Saint Mina Church in Mandara, and Saint Tekle Haymanot Church in Ibrahimeya.

The most important Greek Orthodox churches in Alexandria are Saint Anargyri Church, Church of the Annunciation, Saint Anthony Church, Archangels Gabriel & Michael Church, Saint Catherine Church, Cathedral of the Dormition in Mansheya, Church of the Dormition, Prophet Elijah Church, Saint Georges Church, Church of the Immaculate Conception in Ibrahemeya, Saint Joseph Church in Fleming, Saint Joseph of Arimathea Church, Saint Mark & Saint Nectarios Chapel in Ramleh, Saint Nicholas Church, Saint Paraskevi Church, Saint Sava Cathedral in Ramleh, and Saint Theodore Chapel. In communion with the Greek Orthodox Church is the Russian Orthodox church of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Alexandria, which serves the Russian speaking community in the city.

Churches that follow the Latin Catholic rite include Saint Catherine Church in Mansheya and Church of the Jesuits in Cleopatra. The Saint Mark Church in Shatby, found as part of Collège Saint Marc is multi-denominational and hold liturgies according to Latin Catholic, Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox rites.

Islam
Most of the citizens of Alexandria adhere to the religion of Islam. The most famous mosque in Alexandria is Abu el-Abbas el-Mursi Mosque in Anfoushi. Other notable mosques in the city include Ali ibn Abi Talib mosque in Somouha, Bilal mosque, El-Gamee el-Bahari in Mandara, Hatem mosque in Somouha, Hoda el-Islam mosque in Sidi Bishr, El-Mowasah mosque in Hadara, Sharq el-Madina mosque in Miami, El-Shohadaa mosque in Mostafa Kamel, Qaed Ibrahim mosque, Yehia mosque in Zizinya, Sidi Gaber mosque in Sidi Gaber, and Sultan mosque.

Judaism
Alexandria's once very flourishing Jewish community is now almost extinct after the Arab nationalist movement spurred most to leave for Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. The most important synagogue in Alexandria is the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue .

Education
Alexandria comprises a number of higher education institutions. Alexandria University is a public university that follows the Egyptian system of higher education. Many of its faculties are internationally renowned, most importantly its faculty of engineering. In addition, the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport is a semi-private educational institution that offers courses for both high school and undergraduate level students. Université Senghor is a private French university that focuses on the teaching of humanities, politics and international relations, and which mainly targets students from the African continent. Other institutions of higher education in Alexandria include Alexandria Institute of Technology (AIT) and Pharos University in Alexandria.

Libraries
The Royal Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest library in the world. It is generally thought to have been founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, during the reign of Ptolemy II of Egypt. It was likely created after his father had built what would become the first part of the Library complex, the temple of the Muses — the Museion, Greek Μουσείον (from which the modern English word museum is derived).

It has been reasonably established that the Library, or parts of the collection, were destroyed by fire on a number of occasions (library fires were common and replacement of handwritten manuscripts was very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming). To this day the details of the destruction (or destructions) remain a lively source of controversy. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2003 near the site of the old Library.

Museums
Alexandria Aquarium
The Graeco-Roman Museum
The Royal Jewelry Museum
The Museum of Fine Arts
The Cavafy museum
The Alexandria National Museum was inaugurated the 31st of December, 2003 by Hosni Mubarak and it's located in a restored Italian style palace in Tariq Al-Horreya Street (former Rue Fouad), near the center of the city.. It contains about 1.800 artifacts that narrate the story of Alexandria and Egypt. Most of these pieces came from another Egyptian museums.
The museum is housed in the old Al-Saad Bassili Pasha Palace, who was one of the wealthiest wood merchants in Alexandria. Construction on the site was first undertaken in 1926.

Sports
The main sport that interests Alexandrians is football, as is the case in the rest of Egypt and Africa. Alexandria Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Alexandria, Egypt. It is currently used mostly for football matches, and was used for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. The stadium is the oldest stadium in Egypt and Africa, being built in 1929. The stadium holds 20,000 people. Alexandria was one of three cities that participated in hosting the African Cup of Nations in January 2006, which Egypt won. Sea sports such assurfing, jet-skiing and water polo are practised on a lower scale.
Alexandria has four stadiums:
Borg El Arab Stadium
Harras El-Hedoud Stadium
Alexandria Stadium
El-Krom Stadium
Other less popular sports like tennis and squash are usually played in private social and sports clubs, like:
Alexandria Sporting Club - in "Sporting"
Alexandria Country club
El-Ittihad El-Iskandary Club
El-Olympi Club
Koroum Club
Haras El Hodood Club
Lagoon Resort Courts
Smouha Club - in "Smouha"
There is also the Alexandria weekly cycling carnival, Organized by Cycle Egypt group, which is held every Friday, Cycling amateurs gather every Friday morning to cycle through El Courniche from El Montazah to El Qalaa.

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