Only In Alexandria
Comparing to Cairo, Luxor or Aswan, the city of Alexandria does not have many sights to visit but, surely the city has some places that only can be seen here. Here is a short list.
1) Royal Family Jewellery Museum
The Royal Jewelry Museum is an art and history museum in the Zizenia neighbourhood of Alexandria, Egypt. It is located in the former palace of Princess Fatma Al-Zahra’.
The building’s halls contain an inestimable collection of jewels and jewellery of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. 19th-century paintings, statues, and decorative arts are also exhibited in the rooms and lobbies. The museum was first inaugurated on 24 October 1986. After several years of renovations and expansion, it was reopened in April 2010.
The museum houses major jewellery pieces and art acquisitions of the dynasty of Muhammad Ali and his descendants, who ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years from 1805 until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.
Following the Revolution, the jewellery left by the Royal Family was kept secure and unseen until a 1986 decree by President Mubarak was issued to assign Princess Fatima Al-Zahra’ Palace in Alexandria as a special museum to house those pieces.
The palace was built in 1919. Its walls and ceilings are adorned with oil paintings depicting various historical scenes and natural scenery.
The palace windows are decorated with lead-inlaid glass artwork also depicting European-style historical scenes. It has 4,185 square metres (45,050 sq ft) of interior space and is surrounded by gardens.
2) Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts.
It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major centre of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens.
Alexandria was considered the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Museum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.
The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.
Arguably, this library is most famous for having been burned down resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge.
Sources differ on who was responsible for its destruction and when it occurred. The library may in truth have suffered several fires over many years.
In addition to fires, at least one earthquake damaged the city and the library during this time. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC and an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD.
After the main library was destroyed, scholars used a “daughter library” in a temple known as the Serapeum of Alexandria, located in another part of the city.
According to Socrates of Constantinople, Coptic Pope Theophilus destroyed the Serapeum in AD 391, although it is not certain what it contained or if it contained any significant fraction of the documents that were in the main library.
3) Serapuem “remains of the temple of deity Serapis”
The Serapeum of Alexandria in the Ptolemaic Kingdom was an ancient Greek temple built by Ptolemy III Euergetes (reigned 246–222 BCE) and dedicated to Serapis, who was made the protector of Alexandria. There are also signs of Harpocrates. It has been referred to as the daughter of the Library of Alexandria. The site has been heavily plundered.
The site is located on a rocky plateau, overlooking land and sea. By all detailed accounts, the Serapeum was the largest and most magnificent of all temples in the Greek quarter of Alexandria.
Besides the image of the god, the temple precinct housed an offshoot collection of the great Library of Alexandria. The geographer Strabo tells that this stood in the west of the city. Nothing now remains above ground, except the enormous Pompey’s Pillar. According to Rowe and Rees 1956, Aphthonius, the Greek rhetorician of Antioch visited Serapeum about 315 AD.
The Serapeum of Alexandria was closed in July of 325 AD, likely on the orders of Constantine. Then in 391 AD religious riots broke out, according to Wace
The Serapeum was the last stronghold of the pagans who fortified themselves in the temple and its enclosure. The sanctuary was stormed by the Christians. The pagans were driven out, the temple was sacked, and its contents were destroyed. In this struggle, the Library presumably perished also.
The Serapeum in Alexandria was destroyed by a Christian mob or Roman soldiers in 391 (although the date is debated). Several conflicting accounts for the context of the destruction of the Serapeum exist.