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					                              Alexandria
Known in Arabic as "Al-Iskandaria", Aexandria is situated in the extreme
north of Egypt , on the strip of land separating the Mediterranean from Lake
Marriyut .
It was founded by Alexander the Great in 332-331 BC , on the site of the
Egyptian town of Rhakotis . The great Macedonian conqueror intended to
provide Egypt with a new capital and Mediterranean Greece and the East with a
port , preferring this option to the destroyed Tyre due to its more central
position which made it a potential centre of trade in the Mediterranean . It is not
known whether Alexander intended the city to be one of the metropolises of the
universal empire he dreamed of , but the site soon proved to be well chosen .
However , he did not stay there long enough to see a single building completed .
      Following his mysterious visit to the priest of the temple of Jupiter-Amun in
the Siwa oasis , Alexander departed to devote himself to the conquest of Asia .
Eight years later , he died prematurely at 33 years of age . His body was
embalmed and placed in a tomb in Alexandria with all the honours and funerary
rituals normally accorded to a pharaoh .
     One of Alexander the Great's generals , ptolemy , promptly took up the
reins of power and installed a new dynasty destined to endure for around three
centuries until Cleopatra VII 's suicide in 30 BC .
      Under the aegis of the Ptolemaic Dynasty , Alexandria became a flourishing
cosmopolitan city , the largest in the ancient world before Rome imposed its
supremacy , thanks to extensive trading with the peoples of the Mediterranean .
The union of the Greek and Egyptian cultures meant that to all intents and
purposes the city also became the cultural centre of the country . Thanks
thinkers and scientists such as Euclid , Aristarchus of Samos , Eratosthenes ,
Herophilus and Eratistratus , it was also the cradle of methodological criticism
and philology , classical geometry and astronomy , map-making , the medicine of
the central nervous system and the circulation of blood . Classical literature
mentions two extraordinary institutions of learning and scientific research , the
Library and the Museum .
Unfortunately nothing now remains of either , and nor of the Pharos lighthouse ,
considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World .
A visit to the modern city of Alexandria will hardly satisfy a tourist interested in
antiquities . Echoes of the past can be heard , it is true ; you will be aware of
being in the vicinity of the tomb of Alexander the Great or the palace of Queen
Cleopatra but this has all now vanished forever . All that remain are the Temple
of Serapis and the large Caesareum temple , probably begun by Cleopatra and
completed during the reign of Augustus . You may also observe remains of the
Roman baths and the so-called "Pompey's Column'' . Of more interest is a visit
to the ancient catacombs , the most important of which are those of Komesh-
Shuqafah , dating from the 2nd century AB . Lately , various works of sculpture
and painting and several mosaics are conserved in the Local Graeco-Roman
museum .

				
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