The Establishment of Alexandria
Alexandria was established by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. After the great Greek king and warrior conquered Egypt, he was fond of this small fishing village on the Mediterranean Sea; named Racoda, which faced the Pharos Island. Alexander decided to link the village to the island and construct a new capital of Egypt instead of Memphis. Alexander chose the location of his new capital for a number of reasons. He wanted Alexandria to be the center of the Hellenistic and Greek civilization in the region where the city is located.
Furthermore, the significant strategical location of Alexandria was an important stronghold for the Greek armies to continue their military campaigns in other destinations all over the Mediterranean Sea.
The Ptolemaic Period in Alexandria
After the death of Alexander, the Ptolemies took control of Egypt and of Alexandria which greatly flourished and advanced during this period of time especially in the reign of Ptolemy I till Ptolemy III in the period from the end of the 3rd century AD till the end of the 2nd century.
During this period many important landmarks were constructed in Alexandria like the Lighthouse, the famous Library of Alexandria which was the largest library in the world with more than 70,000 books and rare manuscripts.
Alexandria also the birthplace of many famous scholars, scientists, and philosophers including Euclid, the famous scientists who specialized in geometry, Archimedes, the founder of modern maths, and Herophilus, the famous scientist of medicine and anatomy.
The Roman and Coptic Period in Alexandria
When Octavian defeated Antonio and Cleopatra in the famous battle of Actium, Alexandria, the same as the rest of the cities of Egypt, fell under the Roman control and remained as the capital of the land of the Nile and one of the most important cultural and commercial centers.
When Saint Marcus brought the Christian religion to Alexandria and started preaching people in the middle of the 1st century AD, the importance of Alexandria increased once again to become one of the significant Christian intellectual centers in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the hub where scholars from Morocco, Andalusia, and the Eastern section of the Mediterranean would meet and exchange their experiences and thoughts.
Alexandria in the Islamic Period
When Islam started spreading in Egypt and although Alexandria became no more the capital of the country after the establishment of El Fustat in the 7th century, the city thrived as a major trading port and economic and cultural center.
This is beside the construction of many Islamic buildings like Mosques, palaces, hotels, and many Islamic schools of teaching which had a major role to play in the spread of Islam all over the region. With the Ottomans ruled over Egypt, Alexandria witnessed its first and last period of recession. However, Alexandria was the first city in the Middle East to receive the hordes of western invaders when France invaded Egypt in the 18th century.
Afterward, when Mohamed Ali became the independent ruler of Egypt, Alexandria took back its significant position especially with the diverse mixture of people who resided in the city during its long rich history to become an open-air museum of architecture and culture.
For more information about the amazing history of Alexandria please consider the below resources.
A general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia
A great source for true stories about notable people
An Ancient History Encyclopedia
Updated On March 18, 2020