Why the Name: Alexandria?

View of the Corniche of Alexandria (Wikipedia)

It is about time we talked about Alexandria, the light of Egypt. So why the name Alexandria? If you thought about Alexander the Great, then you are absolutely right! Yes. The second largest city and major economic center of Egypt was named and founded by Alexander the Great.

3rd century BC bust of Alexander the Great (Wikipedia)

Alexandria was founded around a small Ancient Egyptian town around 331 BC by Alexander the Great. It became an important center of the Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Hellenistic and Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1000 years until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo). Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world; now replaced by a modern one); and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the second most powerful city of the ancient world after Rome. Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994, is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhacotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The Great Library of Alexandria

To me, Alexandria, has always had a special place in my heart because of its Great Library. Imagine thousands upon thousands of ancient papyri, scrolls, and books on mathematics, philosophy, medicine, architecture, etc. Just the thought of it makes my eyes shine with light. Isn’t it thrilling? And then to know that this library had been burnt down by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC (more like a repeat of history: Palmyra, The giant Buddhas of Afghanistan, Timbuktu, …) also makes my heart ache at the thought of all this knowledge gone down in flames. Today, we remember the Great Library of Alexandria thanks to what poets and writers of the past said about it, but there are no vestiges of it. I also remember Alexandria because of the brilliant female mathematician Hypatia who chaired a department of philosophy and astronomy, and the world-renowned mathematician Euclid.

Today, Alexandria is Egypt’s largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt’s imports and exports. It is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also an important tourist destination. Enjoy the video below about Alexandria, the beautiful!