Wednesday, 31 January 2018
PAKISTAN: New Airlines Interested In Pakistan, Drug Smuggler Arrested
The airlines are expected to get permission to carry out the flight operation in the country's skies during the next one year, which is likely to bring down passenger fares.
Airlines including Askari Air, Air Siyal, Go Green, Liberty Air and Afeef Zara Airways have applied for the license to be a part of the aviation industry which is expected to be around 9 percent per annum and likely to keep the same pace till 2020, according to a forecast of the International Air Transport Association, a trade body of world's airlines.
Pakistan's air traffic has soared up to 40 percent over the past five years to 20 million passengers, and is continuously witnessing an upward trend due to improvement of law and order situation in the country, which is bringing in more tourists in the country.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has also resulted in the increase of air traffic in the country.
Most of the upcoming carriers will target low-profit, far-off destinations including Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Khuzdar, Dalbandin, Zhob, in Balochistan province where CPEC projects are in full swing, and the tourist destinations of Rawalakot, Skardu, Chitral, Gilgit, Bannu and Parachinar.
The destinations could generate immediate profits because of their tourism potential and work on CPEC projects.
For these remote regions, the new carriers will bring airplanes suitable for small airports.
The entry of new airlines in the country's airspace is expected to further increase challenges of the country's national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines, which was the sole operator in most of these routes in the past.
Meanwhile, authorities at Pakistan's Islamabad International Airport arrested a Canadian national for attempting to smuggle drugs outside the country on Monday.
Officials of Pakistan's Customs said the suspected Canadian smuggler, identified as Brain, was transporting heroin and ice outside the country.
Customs officials said the ice was carefully concealed inside shoes.
The suspect was heading to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on a private airlines' flight, said the officials, adding that a case has been registered against him and investigations are now under way.
The seized contraband has a value of 15 million rupees (some 13,640 U.S. dollars), claimed officials.
Earlier this month, a 21-year-old Czech Republic national woman was arrested at Pakistan's eastern Lahore airport for smuggling nine kilograms of heroin out of the country.
Pakistan Customs officials apprehended the woman in the airport when she was trying to smuggle the drugs from Lahore to United Arab Emirates.
UAE: Dubai Court Sentences Passenger, PIA Suspends Flights To Kuwait And Salalah
The ruling was passed on January 28 after the court heard how the 53-year-old Australian man was transiting from London to Sydney via Dubai on July 25, 2017, according to local media.
A technical issue delayed the flight, resulting in passengers being deboarded after four hours waiting on the plane, which was due to take off at 8.30am.
Passengers were offered a hotel stay near Dubai International Airport.
When requested to have his luggage searched by customs inspectors, the man refused to place his luggage in the scanning device and became angry.
The airport police were called who tried to convince the defendant to have his bags searched.
He repeatedly refused and shouted at an Emirati corporal, claiming he had been on a long flight.
This prompted a request from customs officials for the policeman to handcuff him.
The man violently resisted and the two men fell to the floor, leading to knee and ankle injuries for the policeman.
Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines, the national flag carrier, will halt flights to Kuwait from February 1, officials said on Thursday.
It is pertinent to mention here that the airline had been incurring an annual loss due to its flight operations to the US, prompting the management to stop flights.
According to the official sources, the airline will no longer book flights for Kuwait through its reservation system from February 1.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is cancelling Salalah – Karachi and Muscat – Lahore flights from February 1, 2018, a senior official from PIA said.
Shahzad Paracha, country manager of PIA Oman, however, said: “We were forced to cancel some flights because of the shortage of aircraft.
But, we are hoping that we will soon able to restore these flights.”
PIA operates three times a week to Karachi from Salalah and two flights a week to Lahore from Muscat.
ARGENTINA: Norwegian Air Argentina Acquires Air Operator’s Certificate
The document recognizes the company as a commercial airline, and certifies that it complies with safety and quality standards to carry out aeronautical operations and activities, in accordance with the law of the Argentine Republic.
Bjørn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, said: “We are honored to receive the authorization by the Argentine Government and we thank the Minister of Transportation Guillermo Dietrich and his team for the trust in Norwegian.
“This is great news that shows that we are getting closer to the start of our operations in Argentina with our safe, efficient and friendly service”.
Ole Christian Melhus, CEO of Norwegian Air Argentina, said: “We received the AOC with great enthusiasm and honor and it is a major milestone for our journey in Argentina.
We also thank the director of the National Administration of Civil Aviation, Tomás Insausti and all his team for their professionalism and dedication.
Now we will focus on starting to offer safe flights and affordable fares to millions of passengers soon, as well as job creation and contributing to the stimulation of the local economy”.
easyJet And Munich Re To Cover For Airline Flight Cancellations.
The policy provides financial protection against various large shock events that lead to business interruption losses in aviation.
Examples of such events include volcanic ash clouds, severe winter storms, or the grounding of the fleet on safety grounds.
A statement said the innovative product allows an airline to partially reduce its liquidity reserve.
It has been developed by Munich Re’s Special Enterprise Risks unit and specialists from its aviation underwriting team, working in conjunction with easyJet.
The coverage plays an integral part in the airline’s capital management. The pricing is competitive with other sources of funding and allows the airline to free up cash that can be put to use in the business.
The product demonstrates that insurance can be a valuable alternative to capital market instruments.
Flight cancellations are valued at a pre-agreed fixed amount to ensure a fast and effective pay-out.
Nobody has forgotten the business impact of the huge ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which according to IATA estimates led to the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights and caused airline losses exceeding US$ 1.8bn.
The cover is structured to limit the balance sheet impact on airlines of such significant business interruption events.
Mike Hirst, Director of Treasury and Tax for easyJet, said “We have been very impressed with Munich Re’s creativeness, professionalism and project management throughout the development of this innovative product. The product itself complements the combination of cash and Revolving Credit Facility that already supports our liquidity buffer and diversifies further our counterparty credit risk into the insurance market and, specifically, to a very creditworthy long-term partner in Munich Re.”
Rolf Heintzeler, Head of Aviation Facultative, is pleased to have won easyJet as a new long-term client.
This deal is a real win-win for both parties: easyJet is the right partner for this kind of deal because, when it comes to safety and risk management, easyJet is top in class.
As a diverse set of perils has to be covered, broad risk expertise is needed to develop such tailor-made solutions for the client.”
GREECE: Launches "So Different Greece" A Four-season Destination
During a tourism forum titled, So Different Greece, Greek and Russian officials discussed ways of increasing tourism flows between the two countries.
The forum is providing us with a significant opportunity to get to know each other, learn more on our abilities and dynamics and to see how we can cooperate, said Angeliki Chondromatidou, vice president of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).
Moreover, Thessaly governor and president of the Union of Greek Regions ENPE Kostas Agorastos referred to the potential of promoting tourism exchanges between the two countries and spoke of the region’s advantages as a four-season destination.
We can further strengthen our ties and find new ways, new fields to better develop our relations and discuss on new activities, collaborations and business ideas, which could take us on a higher level, Agorastos said.
Vice governor of tourism for the Region of South Aegean Marietta Papavasileiou also presented the thematic tourism products offered by destinations in the Aegean, including pilgrimage tourism, gastronomy tourism, cultural and sports tourism.
There is a lot more to discover in the Dodecanese and the Cyclades than just their remarkable locations and stunning beaches. A wide range of experiences awaits our guests, Papavasileiou said.
Furthermore, Central Macedonia vice governor for tourism and culture Alexandros Thanos, held a number of events and B2B meetings with Russian tourism and regional authorities, and private sector representatives.
Through the meetings Thanos aimed to promote the tourism product of Central Macedonia and specifically the special forms of travel offered such as hiking, pilgrimage tourism, archaeological tourism, culinary tourism, cultural tourism and spa tourism.
The Greece-Russia Year of Tourism 2017-2018 was inaugurated in September 2017 and this year will include dozens of events, happenings and activities scheduled to take place in Greece and Russia.
ETHIOPIA: Lalibela, Jerusalem Of Ethiopia With Miraculous Underground Churches, Eighth Wonder Of The World
Its unique and remarkable monolithic churches hewn from living rock, most built more than 900 years ago, are one of Ethiopia's leading attractions and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.
According to the 2007 Census Data, the population was 17,367, of whom 8,112 were males and 9,255 were females.
Based on previous figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, the town had an estimated total population of 14,668 of whom 7,049 were males and 7,619 were females.
The 1994 national census recorded its population to be 8,484 of whom 3,709 were males and 4,775 were females.
It's a common scene in Lalibela, a small town in northern Ethiopia that's home to 11 spectacular churches carved both inside and out from a single rock some 900 years ago.
The chiseled creations have turned this mountain town into a place of pride and pilgrimage for worshipers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 visitors every year.
Carved out of volcanic tuff rock, the famous churches have been built in a variety of styles. Some of them were chiseled into the face of the rock, where others stand as isolated blocks, like the iconic church of Saint George, constructed in the shape of the cross.
A complex and extensive system of drainage ditches, tunnels and subterranean passageways connects the underground structures.
Lalibela is a town in Amhara Region, northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock-cut churches. The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony to the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia.
Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
Ethiopia was one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, and its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles.
The churches themselves date from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, and are traditionally dated to the reign of the Zagwe dynasty king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela 1181–1221 AD.
The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem.
This has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Muslim leader, Saladin.
Lalibela is located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, at roughly 2,500 meters above sea level.
It is the main town in Lasta woreda, which was formerly part of Bugna woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Lalibela is a great little town to visit. Its complex of churches chiselled from pink volcanic rock have been called the eighth wonder of the world.
In addition, the wonderful year-round climate and exhilarating mountain views, combined with some of the finest lodgings outside of the capital, are reason to spend a few days soaking up the fine vistas.
Lalibela's relative isolation and small size means you will get to understand more intimately and thoroughly the innate piety and hard lives of the rural poor.
To the north of Lalibela, Dewosach, where much of the decorating and illumination of holy books was done in the time of King Lalibela, rises more than another 1,000 m (3,280 ft) above Lalibela to 3,670 m (12,040 ft) while the much nearer and slightly lower Asheten with its distinctive flat top lies to the east.
Asheten means smell in Amharic and this mesa was named during the reign of King Lalibela's nephew, King Neakutoleab, who burned frankincense while building Saint Mary's church on its summit, visiting monks said they found it by following the smell.
This is not to say that everything in the garden is rosy. Women here bear an unfair workload, and you may wince when you see little girls of five and six bent double and almost hidden from view by the immense load of firewood on their backs while their elder brothers play games they like.
Sanitation and public cleanliness is a bit haphazard so there are more flies here than in Tigray to the north.
To the south of the north-west complex of churches you can still see some older dwellings built in the style peculiar to Lalibela, neat round two storey dwellings built out of stone with conical, thatched roofs.
Most other buildings are either wattle and daub structures or improvised buildings with corrugated roofs patched with thatch.
There could hardly be more of a contrast with the ancient craftsmanship of the ecclesiastical buildings which must surely be unique in all the world for having been built from the top down rather than from the ground up.
Guides in Ethiopia are licensed in different ways for different areas / sites by the Ethiopian government. The guides for the rock hewn churches are specialised-licensed for the 11 churches. The federally licensed tour guides can operate all around Ethiopia but cannot take you into the churches in Lalibela town.
Since the town, first called Roha, was founded by the eponymous King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty more than 900 years ago as the new Jerusalem.
The later renamed Lalibela has been a major ecclesiastical centre of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and a place of pilgrimage to its amazing concentration of rock-hewn churches.
Pious Ethiopians often walk hundreds of kilometres in bare feet from all over Ethiopia to receive blessings.
Although all the church exteriors and interiors are carved from soft volcanic tufa, their architecture is extremely diverse: some stand as isolated monoliths in deep pits, while others have been cut into the face of a cliff.
Establishing a sequence or chronology for a rock-hewn building is much more difficult than for a conventional one, especially when the churches in Lalibela are all in daily use for services.
The Ethiopian Orthodox tradition unequivocally recognises the huge task represented by the cutting of these churches and their associated trenches, passages and tunnels.
It explains the completion of the excavation during the reign of a single saintly king by attributing much of the work to angels who, after the workmen had downed tools for the day, came in on a night shift and worked twice as fast as the human day shift had done. In this way, work proceeded so fast that all the churches are said to have been completed within King Lalibela’s quarter-century rule.
Some argue that the oldest of the rock-hewn features at Lalibela may date to the 7th or 8th centuries CE, about 500 years earlier than the traditional dating.
These first monuments were not originally churches, although they were subsequently extended in a different architectural style and converted to ecclesiastical use.
Later perhaps around the 12th or 11th century the finest and most sophisticated churches were added, carved as three- or five-aisled basilicas and retaining many architectural features derived from those of ancient Aksum, which had flourished some 400–800 years previously.
Several of the features attributed to this last phase bear names like the Tomb of Adam or the Church of Golgotha, which mirror those of places visited by pilgrims to Jerusalem and its environs.
This naming has extended to natural features: the seasonal river which flows though the site is known as Yordanos or Jordan and a nearby hill is Debra Zeit or Mount of Olives.
It seems that it was King Lalibela who gave the place its present complexity and form: a substitute for Jerusalem as a place of pilgrimage.
It may be significant that early in King Lalibela’s reign the Muslim Salah-ad-Din (Saladin) had captured Jerusalem, and for this reason Ethiopians may have felt excluded from making their traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Land across the Red Sea.
Today, a cloth-draped feature in the Church of Golgotha is pointed out as the Tomb of King Lalibela.
During the reign of Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela a member of the Zagwe Dynasty, who ruled Ethiopia in the late 12th century and early 13th century, the current town of Lalibela was known as Roha.
The saintly king was named so, because a swarm of bees is said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia.
The names of several places in the modern town and the general layout of the rock-cut churches themselves are said to mimic names and patterns observed by Lalibela during the time he spent as a youth in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Lalibela, revered as a saint, is said to have seen Jerusalem, and then attempted to build a new Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187.
Each church was carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize spirituality and humility.
Christian faith inspires many features with Biblical names even Lalibela's river is known as the River Jordan. Lalibela remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th into the 13th century.
According to the Futuh al-Habasa of Sihab ad-Din Ahmad, Ahmad Gragn burned one of the churches of Lalibela during his invasion of Ethiopia.
However, Richard Pankhurst has expressed his skepticism about this event, pointing out that although Sihab ad-Din Ahmad provides a detailed description of a rock-hewn church It was carved out of the mountain.
Its pillars were likewise cut from the mountain, only one church is mentioned; Pankhurst adds that what is special about Lalibela, as every tourist knows is that it is the site of eleven or so rock churches, not just one.
They are all within more or less a stone's throw of each other. Pankhurst also notes that the Royal Chronicles, which mention Ahmad Gragn's laying waste to the district between July and September 1531, are silent about the Imam ravaging the fabled churches of this city.
He concludes by stating that had Ahmad Gragn burned a church at Lalibela, it was most likely Bete Medhane Alem; and if the Muslim Army was either mistaken or misled by the locals.
Then the church he set fire to was Gannata Maryam, 10 miles east of Lalibela which likewise has a colonnade of pillars cut from the mountain.
This rural town is known around the world for its churches carved from within the earth from living rock, which play an important part in the history of rock-cut architecture.
Though the dating of the churches is not well established, most are thought to have been built during the reign of Lalibela, namely during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Unesco identifies 11 churches, assembled in four groups:
- Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), home to the Lalibela Cross.
- Biete Maryam (House of Miriam/House of Mary), possibly the oldest of the churches, and a replica of the Tombs of Adam and Christ.
- Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael), known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela
- Biete Meskel (House of the Cross)
- Biete Denagel (House of Virgins)
- Biete Giyorgis (Church of Saint George), thought to be the most finely executed and best preserved church
- Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), possibly the former royal chapel
- Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St Mercoreos/House of St Mark), which may be a former prison
- Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos)
- Biete Gabriel-Rufael (House of the angels Gabriel, and Raphael) possibly a former royal palace, linked to a holy bakery.
- Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread).
Farther afield, lie the monastery of Ashetan Maryam and Yimrehane Kristos Church, possibly eleventh century, built in the Aksumite fashion, but within a cave.
Since the time spent to carve these structures from the living rock must have taken longer than the few decades of King Lalibela's reign, it is assumed that the work extended into the 14th century.
However, David Phillipson, professor of African archeology at Cambridge University, has proposed that the churches of Merkorios, Gabriel-Rufael, and Danagel were initially carved out of the rock half a millennium earlier.
Fortifications or other palace structures in the waning days of the Axumite Kingdom, and that Lalibela's name simply came to be associated with them after his death.
On the other hand, local historian Getachew Mekonnen credits Masqal Kibra, Lalibela's queen, with having one of the rock-hewn churches (Abba Libanos) built as a memorial for her husband after his death.
The churches are also a significant engineering feat, given that they are all associated with water which fills the wells next to many of the churches, exploiting an artesian geological system that brings the water up to the top of the mountain ridge on which the city rests.
In a 1970 report of the historic dwellings of Lalibela, Sandro Angelini evaluated the vernacular earthen architecture on the Lalibela World Heritage Site, including the characteristics of the traditional earth houses and analysis of their state of conservation.
His report described two types of vernacular housing found in the area. One type are a group he calls the "tukuls", round huts built of stone and usually having two stories.
The second are the single-storey "chika" buildings which are round and built of earth and wattle, which he feels reflects more scarcity.
Angel's report also included an inventory of Lalibela's traditional buildings, placing them in categories rating their state of conservation.
Lalibela is also home to an airport, a large market, two schools and a hospital.
Ethiopian Airlines has scheduled flights every day to Lalibela Airport. There are direct flights from Axum, Bahir Dar and Gondar and indirect flights from Addis Ababa, and direct flights to Addis Ababa, Axum and Gondar, but not to Bahir Dar.
Flights are often overbooked; make sure you reconfirm your seat at least one day in advance and show up at the airport on time.
Flights can be rescheduled or cancelled at short notice because of weather or operational reasons.
The airport is mid-sized, which seems over-sized for a small town like Lalibela. It's 27 km from town and at least 30 minutes by shared minibus.
The road is asphalted but was poorly constructed and parts are in poor condition.
The roads to the small town of Gashena, south of Lalibela, are asphalted from Bahir Dar and Gondar to the west, and Woldia to the east.
From there it is 1-2 hours over a road that is unsealed except for the last part from Lalibela Airport to the town. From Bahir Dar the drive takes about 7-8 hours and from Gondar about 10-11 hours.
It is possible to get private drivers in both Bahir Dar and Gondar and would cost about 2,000-4,000 birr depending on negotiations, location and driver.
There is also an unsealed road to Lalibela from the north, but even if coming from Axum and Adwa, it is quicker and easier to take the sealed road via Adigrat and Woldia.
There is a daily bus from Addis Ababa. It is a two-day journey with an overnight stop at Dessie. The bus passes through Woldia mid-morning and will pick up passengers from the bus station if it has room.
Another bus runs daily from Woldia, leaving at dawn. Both the Woldia and Addis Ababa buses depart Lalibela at 06:00.
It is usually possible to get to/from Bahir Dar by bus in one day by changing buses at Gashena, about one or two bumpy hours from Lalibela depending on traffic and weather.
If you are travelling to or from Gondar by bus, you will usually have to spend the night somewhere.
Coming from Axum the most plausible way would take about two nights with stopovers in Mekele and Woldia.
However, if you are lucky you might be able to catch a shared taxi in Mekele which brings you along highway 1 to Woldia.
The next day you can catch a bus heading towards Bahir Dar with a stop at the Gashena junction to Lalibela where you have to wait for another bus/car to bring you to Lalibela. This might take a few hours.
You may lose a few kilos walking up and down the streets some cobbled, some dirt since there are few conventional taxis and Lalibela is pleasantly free of buzzing bajaji engines.
You can rent minibuses to drive you around town for about 25 birr per person (minimum 50 birr). Unlike bigger towns and cities in Ethiopia, no blue and white minibuses regularly run through Lalibela.
You can walk safely around town and people will greet with many wanting to practice their English or offer their services or wares. School children may try to befriend you, and follow you around, perhaps beg.
From 2010 onwards the government has tried to forbid begging, and the situation is now much better than before, but many people still beg after a long conversation or invite you to their homes where more successful begging can be done.
This town is known around the world for its churches hewn from the top down into living rock, most of which were built during the reign of the eponymous Lalibela, king of Ethiopia, when he moved his capital here in the Zagwe period.
Contrary to certain spurious myths, they were not built with the help of the Knights Templar; rather, they were produced solely by medieval Ethiopian civilization.
However, there is controversy as to when the churches were constructed. Some scholars believe that the churches were built well before Lalibela and that Lalibela simply named them after himself. They were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.
It's a good idea to get up before dawn to be at the ticket office when it opens at 06:00. This way you will hear the deep bass rhythms of the church drums and the haunting chants of the priests and congregation at mass.
There are also fewer flies and wanna-be guides pestering you. Ethiopian birds are colourful and more of them are about just after dawn.
A great time to visit is on Sunday mornings, when hundreds of people descend on the churches for traditional Ethiopian Orthodox worship.
Looking inside the churches is less intrusive after 10:00, and what you lose in birdlife is compensated by red, yellow and blue headed lizards scampering over the rough terrain.
The 11 churches are in three clusters, all within easy walking distance of each other:
The north-western group of 6 churches includes:
1 - Bet Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, probably a copy of Saint Mary of Zion in Axum.
It is linked to Bet Maryam St Mary's, possibly the oldest of the churches, Bet Golgotha known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela, the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of Adam.
The north-eastern group of 4 churches includes:
2 - Bet Amanuel possibly the former royal chapel, Bet Merkorios which may be a former prison, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufael possibly a former royal palace, linked to a holy bakery.
3 - Bet Giyorgis or St George's Church, unique in all the world in its cruciform style, is very well preserved and on its own 500 m to the south.
The churches are open 06:00-12:00, and 14:00-17:00. Admission to all costs US$50 for adults, and USD25 for children aged 9-13 ticket valid for 5 days.
Entry is free for children under 9 and Ethiopians without a foreign passport. Licenced guides are available from the tourist office in Lalibela for 200 birr per day.
These guides are well trained and have an excellent working knowledge of the churches and good relationships with the priests.
Unlicensed guides will approach you all over the village, but they often know very little about the churches and are best avoided.
You need to take your shoes off before entering the churches. As there are numerous churches, you will do this a number of times.
You may find it easier to wear slip-on footwear, such as flip-flops. The rock between churches in each cluster, although uneven, has been worn smooth over the centuries.
You might even take a plastic bag to pop your footwear into, and walk barefoot between the churches as many pilgrims do.
Farther afield lie the monasteries of Na’akuto La’ab (4 km south) and 4 Ashetan Maryam, and Yimrehane Kristos church possibly 11th century, built in the Axumite fashion but within a cave.
Visit the weekly market on Saturday, not much you would want to buy, some local weaving possibly, but an invaluable insight into local life. Make sure you visit the donkey park.
Holidays. 7 Jan in the Gregorian calendar used by most of the world, Ethiopian Christmas or Ledet; 19 Jan , Epiphany or Timkat are two of the most festive.
Lalibela in particular gets packed during these times, so best to plan in advance. September 11 is the Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash.
Hike to Mount Abuna Yosef, Main Street, Lower Town, Lalibela. Mt Abuna Yosef is within hiking distance from Lalibela town.
It and the surrounding conservation areas are only reachable on foot and can be done through a multiday hike along the escaprment.
The route can also include some of the churches further out of Lalibela town. If you are feeling fit and adventurous, go hike. It's probably best to spend at least one night in the mountains. 2-3 nights is plenty. Approx 100 USD per day for two people all inclusive..
Public Library, Kedemt Rd close to the ticket office for the church complexes. A modern, airy building opened by the United Kingdom's Princess Anne on 9 Oct 2002 with a small stock of books in Amharic and an even smaller stock many of them textbooks in English.
Ethiopia Cookery School, at Blu Lal Hotel, Although the women who runs this stayed in France for several years she never learned to cook properly.
However, she is probably just the person to teach you how to make injera with a fine and tasty wat over an open fire. USD50 for one, USD30 each for two or three.
There is an ATM at Dashen Bank on the ground floor of the Aman Hotel close to the Ethiopian Airlines office, and another next door at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.
The Dashen one permits up to 2000 birr in one transaction with multiple daily transactions possible up to your daily card limit. Only Visa is accepted.
For other card holders the only option besides having an acquaintance send money via Western Union is to go to the Mountain View Hotel. They will charge MasterCard plus a 10% surcharge and give you birr.
The best stocked place in Lalibela is the WOW Supermarket on the west side of the steep Sebat Woyra Road about 200 m before it joins Adebabay Street by the Seven Olives Hotel.
1 Ben Abeba perhaps 700m uphill from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and turn into the same road as the Cliff Edge Hotel.
Whimsical looking Gaudi meets Mad Max restaurant. It has a gob-smacking location on a little hillock standing on a rock promontory to give in-credible 360 degree views and is surrounded by rock gardens and flowers, Ben means hill in Scots Gaelic and Abeba means flowers in Amharic.
The menu is one of the most imaginative in Ethiopia, you should try the tuna pate drizzled in lemon juice with tiny home-made oatcakes and their savoury home-made bread is delicious and reasonably priced.
Get up early and go to Ben Abeba for breakfast to see the sun rise over the valleys.
This is a terrific spot for watching brightly coloured weaver birds investigating the variegated seed sources in this restaurant's garden and you are on the same level as soaring birds such as lammergeier, falcons and eagles.
John Cafe. Good food and terrific mixed fruit juices. A handy place for refreshments when you've walked back up the hill from the churches.
The restaurant at the Seven Olives Hotel serves some of the largest and tastiest helpings in Lalibela. Their steak stuffed with rice and vegetables and served with a most delicious kita made from aga is delicious and large enough to feed two.
This delightful restaurant set in a mature garden in the commercial centre of town is circular, with a giant 10m diameter weaving forming the ceiling and making you feel like you are under the giant traditional cover of a mittad cooking injera.
Hotel Lalibela in the south downhill, on the main street with the souvenir shops opposite Tukul Village Lodge excellent food in the attached restaurant for reasonable rates. 30-100 Birr
In addition to the places below, there are cheaper local places with tej or honey wine for 5-10 birr per bottle.
Torpido Tejbet (Askelech) a short distance down lane opposite the police station. Tej, azmari music and dancing.
Don't be put off by the unprepossessing access way inside it is attractively decorated and has a great atmosphere, with good singers and dancers performing on the floor. The toilets, which are separate, are grotty though.
Mar Telo Bar far north on the main road, opposite Red Rock Hotel – there is only a small sign over the entrance.
Lovely local bar/restaurant run by an old lady with a scenic view over the valley in the back. You may have to dance. There are a few cheap rooms available. Tej is 10 birr per bottle, beer is 15 birr.
Lalibela has an extremely high proportion of faranji seeking accommodation, as opposed to locals; consequently budget accommodation is scarce and overpriced.
Many tourist class hotels have been built recently but the owners and managers have often never visited Addis Ababa, never mind travelled outside Ethiopia and seem to suffer the delusion that guests from Europe, Asia and Australasia will not understand prices in birr.
Consequently they invariably will quote a laughably high price in US dollars at first.
Prices quoted are for the low season of June-August and hoteliers will try to extort a much higher price during festivals and other busy times.
Most tourist class lodgings are concentrated in two areas:
Shimbrima at the north-western end of Adebabay St, many with stunning escarpment views and a gentle climb to the economic centre of town and a steeper descent to the church complexes.
Getergie at the south-western end of town, on and off Getergie Rd and without the stunning escarpment views but still with fine views of the surrounding buttes and mesas, but still a long way to the bus station on the eastern side of town.
Hotels in this district have both a steep climb to the church complexes and then an equally steep climb to the economic centre of town. However, maybe it's better to stagger downhill to your bed after a day's sightseeing.
For those arriving by bus, this very basic hotel may save them both some dosh and a long uphill hike to the town proper:
1 Tena Adam Hotel, Werk Dingay or "America" district behind bus station on the road to Lalibela Airport. Probably the only hotel in Lalibela which charges the same price for foreigners and Ethiopians.
There is no bargaining even on major holidays. Prices during Christmas and other holidays are the same. Rooms are comfortable with sturdy beds and blankets.
The common bathroom is clean and can accommodate many guests at the same time for those using the toilet and cold shower. The owner is Befekadu Sisay.
Top Twelve Hotel. Family owned and run and it shows in the spotlessly clean bedrooms and common areas and the attention to detail which means that everything works, a rare treat in Ethiopia.
Two stories high with a nice little lawn to enjoy the afternoon coffee ceremony; spectacular views from the twin sunloungers of each private balcony.
Shower rooms are up to European standards and each bedroom is beautifully furnished with locally themed and sourced furniture and furnishings but without TV or phone.
200 station satellite TV in the reception/restaurant area. Free Wi-Fi throughout. Car park is guarded 24 hours. 20kW standby generator, laundry service, weekly barbecue.
Worth a visit even if it is full and you cannot sleep in one of its 12 en suite rooms because of two features.
Its modern Ethiopian renaissance architecture and interior design that ranks amongst the best in the whole country – no chipped marble and faux Louis XIV curlicues here.
A right up-to-date Polish wall map of Ethiopia and surrounding countries so modern it even shows the border crossing with the new country of South Sudan and showing relief and all major features of interest to the traveler.
Filling stations and ATMs together with an accompanying wall poster in English with photographs listing the major tourist sights and features.
Sgl 690 birr, dbl/twin 890 birr including a cooked breakfast, MasterCard & VISA accepted with 5% surcharge.
Cliff Edge Hotel, A nondescript, 3 stories high, modern hotel sharing a spectacular view with the others in this location. 18 en suite rooms without TV or phone or a closet to hang your clothes but satellite TV in the reception area.
Free Wi-Fi throughout. Car park for 12 vehicles is guarded 24 hours. No standby generator, laundry service. Dismal restaurant with an even more dismal menu and kitchen. Sgl 800 birr, dbl/twin 1000 birr, triple 1200 birr, VISA accepted with 5% surcharge.
Mountain View Hotel,. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Modern architecture using local red rhyolitic tuff cladding of volcanic origin provides great views for each and every small room from their balconies perched one above the other.
3 stories high. 30 cramped rooms with no TV or phone, but satellite TV in the well stocked bar. All bedrooms have a hip bath with a shower above, desk and 2 chairs.
No Wi-Fi in the bedrooms but free in the common areas and attractive terrace. Car park for 20 vehicles is guarded 24 hours. 20 kW standby generator, laundry service.
Restaurant with the usual unimaginative, boring and misspelt faranji menu of spaghetti carbonara without bacon, omelettes, steaks but not as anyone in Argentina would recognise and French fries.
Sgl 1,200 birr, dbl/twin 1,400 birr (June 2013), MasterCard & VISA accepted with 5% surcharge. edit
Panoramic View Hotel, 35 en suite rooms without TV or phone or a closet to hang your clothes but satellite TV in the cave-like gloom of the reception area.
Perhaps they did not install u-bends in the plumbing, as after using the shower and going off to breakfast, one may come back to a sewer smell in the bathroom. Free Wi-Fi throughout.
Car park for 12 vehicles is guarded 24 hours. Brand new bus can carry groups of up to 20 people. Restaurant, laundry service, no standby generator. Sgl 800 birr, dbl/twin 1000 birr, triple 1200 birr includes full breakfast (June 2013), MasterCard & VISA accepted with 5% surcharge.
Mar Telo Bar, on the main road opposite Red Rock Hotel, easy to miss due to the small sign. Has cheap rooms for backpackers paired with a scenic view and cheap food and tej.
The old lady running it may not understand English you may need a translator. 250 birr single
Asheten Hotel, take the easterly fork off Adebabay St just south of the Ethiopian Airlines office and then keep right at subsequent junctions, it's a long uphill hike from the bus station. Nice, quiet place with hot showers. From 250 birr.
Seven Olives Hotel. The oldest hotel in Lalibela, founded in 1967 and badly in need of a freshening makeover, this dilapidated property is owned by the diocesan office.
Rooms are noisily close, clean, small and dark, with twins, double and triple beds and small en suite ablutions with hot showers. Substantially over-priced at 680 birr for single occupancy, dbl/twin 910 birr, triple 1280 birr.
Cash only. However, it has the best hygiene of the central hotels and has a peaceful garden with mature trees and one of the best restaurants in town.
Helen Hotel. Scruffy dive closest to the church complexes on the west side of Getergie Rd. Has satellite TV in the dirty bar.
Is getting renovated and may have only a small sample of rooms. Sgl 250 birr, dbl/twin 300 birr, triple 400 birr.
Lalibela Hotel down the main street with the souvenir shops on the left side, opposite Tukul Village. Nice, clean and luxurious rooms. It is newly build and has a bathtub and TV.
There is an excellent restaurant attached. 400-500 birr, more if you book online.
9 Roha Hotel. 63 small, cramped rooms with a tiny TV and DDI phone currently receiving 2 channels: Ethiopian TV and BBC World News.
Well stocked bar. All bedrooms have a wash handbasin in one corner and a separate ablutions with WC and a hip bath with a shower above, desk and chairs. Hot water is provided from a centralised boiler.
Wi-Fi in both the bedrooms and the common areas and attractive restaurant seating 73. Large car park for more than 20 vehicles is guarded 24 hours. 80 kW standby generator.
Sgl 565 birr, dbl/twin 850 birr, triple 1248 birr, MasterCard & VISA accepted with 5% surcharge
Tukul Village Lodge, Internet and shops across street, a newish place with very nice, spacious "tukul" round, native style with thatched roofs and en suite shower rooms with better views from their private balconies than most other hotels in this area.
Restaurant and 20kW standby generator. Sgl 900 birr, dbl/twin 1,250 birr, triple 1,700 birr .
Lalibela Hudad Eco-Retreat (Hudad Lodge). Located on a 10 hectare amba (mesa) at an elevation of 3,300 m, several km from Lalibela.
There is a road part way there; access the rest of the way is by foot or mule. Accommodation is in tukuls spread out over the amba, each with its separate tukul outhouse.
There is no running water. With luck you will spend the evening around a campfire with locals who will sing, dance and give you a traditional leg wash and massage from the knees to the toes. Night temperatures are cool at this elevation, so take extra layers for round the campfire, but there will probably be a sweater provided in your tukul.
The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century New Jerusalem are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings.
Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.
In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock.
Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire.
There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael).
And to the south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread).
The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks.
These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc.
This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.
Biete Medhani Alem, with its five aisles, is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, while Biete Ghiorgis has a remarkable cruciform plan.
Most were probably used as churches from the outset, but Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael may formerly have been royal residences. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings.
Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two storey round houses, constructed of local red stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls.
These exceptional churches have been the focus of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians since the 12th century.
All the eleven churches represent a unique artistic achievement, in their execution, size and the variety and boldness of their form.
The King of Lalibela set out to build a symbol of the holy land, when pilgrimages to it were rendered impossible by the historical situation.
In the Church of Biet Golgotha, are replicas of the tomb of Christ, and of Adam, and the crib of the Nativity.
The holy city of Lalibela became a substitute for the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and as such has had considerable influence on Ethiopian Christianity.
The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony to the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia, including, next to the eleven churches, the extensive remains of traditional, two storey circular village houses with interior staircases and thatched roofs.
The drainage ditches were filled up with earth for several centuries, before being cleared in the 20th century, and have been disrupted by seismic activity.
This has resulted in a severe degradation of the monuments from water damage, and most of them are now considered to be in a critical condition.
Structural problems have been identified in Biet Amanuel where an imminent risk of collapse is possible, and other locations need to be monitored. Serious degradation of the paintings inside the churches has occurred over the last thirty years. Sculptures and bas-reliefs such as at the entrance of Biet Mariam have also been severely damaged, and their original features are hardly recognisable. All of this threatens the integrity of the property.
Temporary light-weight shelters have now been installed over some churches and these, while offering protection, impact on visual integrity.
Other threats include encroachment on the environment of the churches by new public and private construction, housing associated with the traditional village adjacent to the property, and from the infrastructure of tourism.
The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela are still preserved in their natural settings. The association of the rock-hewn churches and the traditional vernacular circular houses, in the surrounding area, still demonstrate evidences of the ancient village layout.
The original function of the site as a pilgrimage place still persists and provides evidence of the continuity of social practices. The intangible heritages associated with church practices are still preserved.
For centuries, the Church and State have been jointly responsible for the holy site of Lalibela. Home to a large community of priests and monks, it is a living site which draws many pilgrims to celebrate the great feasts of the Ethiopian Christian calendar.
This active and energetic perspective is central to the management of the site.
No special legal framework is provided to protect the Rock-Hewn Churches except the general law, Proclamation No. 209/2000, which has also established the institution in charge, the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH).
With the Ethiopian Church as a partner, the ARCCH has a representative in Lalibela but a principle difficulty has been the harmonization of the different projects and effective coordination between the partners.
The property is administered under the regional and the Lasta district culture and tourism office. To prevent the property from the impact of development, a draft proclamation has been prepared but this is not yet ratified.
A management plan has not yet been established. A four year Conservation Plan was established in 2006 but this has yet to be fully implemented.
The boundary for the property has not yet been clearly delineated and a buffer zone has not yet been provided.
There is a need for stronger planning controls for the setting of the churches that address housing, land-use tourism and for a management plan to be developed that integrates the Conservation action plan.
The overall sustainable development of the area, with the involvement of the local population.
Following the decline of the Aksumite Empire, power shifted in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to Roha in Lasta District.
This was renamed for King Lalibela (1181-1221) of the Zagwe Dynasty which ruled in Lalibela for more than a century.
The construction of eleven rock-hewn churches is attributed to King Lalibela.
The buildings are monolithic, carved from a sloping mass of red volcanic scoria underlaid by dark grey basalt and interconnected by a maze of tunnels and passages with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.
Some are of the basilica type, having archaic features and imitating architectural elements from earlier periods, yet they differ in design and style.
Two are decorated with interesting wall paintings and carved figures. The Lalibela churches are included in the World Heritage List; the principal edifices are the Churches of Medhane Alem, Maryam, Ammanuel, Giyorgis and Golgota-Mikaïl.
Erosion due mainly to weathering is damaging the stone surfaces of all the churches, so that restoration is a matter of urgency. Religious objects too, such as a cross, manuscripts and a wooden altar, must at all costs be preserved.
UNESCO and the European Community have organized an international competition to built temporary shelters to protect the monuments from the rains. As soon as it is technically possible, the sites will be restored.
Enterprising local children might ask you to buy schoolbooks and pens for them. Some say don't bother contributing to their education in this way, as they will return the books and keep the money.
Tuesday, 30 January 2018
EGYPT: Alexandria, A Popular Tourist Destination
It's a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and glimpses of its past.
Alexandria, is the second largest city and a major economic centre in Egypt, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country.
Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.
Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.
Few cities of the world have a history as rich as that of Alexandria; few cities have witnessed so many historic events and legends.
Founded by Alexander the Great or Iskander al-Akbar in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt; its status as a beacon of culture is symbolized by Pharos, the legendry lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria or Pharos was built in the third century BC by Ptolemy I on the island of Pharos.
The height of the lighthouse was between 115 and 150 meters, so it was among the highest structures in the world, second only to the Great Pyramids.
The lighthouse was built on 3 floors: a square bottom with a central heart, a section octagonal average and above an upper section.
On the top there was a mirror that reflected sunlight during the day and used fire for the night. But it was damaged by 2 earthquakes in 1303 and 1323.
The Library of Alexandria was the largest library of the ancient world and the place where great philosophers and scientists of that age came to seek knowledge.
Alexandria also hosted, at the time, the largest Jewish community in the world, and the Septuagint, the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was written in the city.
Alexandria was the intellectual and cultural center of the ancient world for some time. The city and its museum attracted many of the greatest scholars, including Greeks, Jews and Syrians.
The city was later plundered and lost its significance.
In the early Christian Church, the city was the center of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which was one of the major centers of early Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire.
In the modern world, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria both lay claim to this ancient heritage.
In all, Alexandria was one of the greatest cities in the Hellenic world, second only to Rome in size and wealth, and while it changed hands from Rome to Byzantine and finally Persia, the city stayed the capital of Egypt for a millennium.
Alexandria was not only a center of Hellenism, but was also home to the largest urban Jewish community in the world. The Septuagint, a Greek version of the Tanakh, was produced there.
The early Ptolemies kept it in order and fostered the development of its museum into the leading Hellenistic center of learning or Library of Alexandria, but were careful to maintain the distinction of its population's three largest ethnicities: Greek, Jewish, and Egyptian.
The city's reign came to an end when the Arabs conquered Egypt in 641 and decided to found a new capital to the south in Cairo.
Alexandria survived as a trading port; Marco Polo described it around 1300 as one of the world's two busiest ports, along with Quanzhou.
However, its strategic location meant that every army on its way to Egypt passed through: Napoleon's troops stormed the city in 1798, but the British conquered it in the Siege of Alexandria in 1801.
The Egyptians under Mohammed Ali took control of the city and rebuilt it, but the Orabi Rebellion in 1881 and massacres of Europeans in the city led the British to strike back and hammer the rebels with the three-day Bombardment of Alexandria, reducing much of the city center to rubble.
Once again, Alexandria rose from the ashes. Its cosmopolitan and decadent lifestyle before and during World War II gave birth to its greatest poet, Constantine P. Cavafy.
Yet this world, too, took a shattering blow in the 1950s when Egypt's new fiercely nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized vast swathes of the economy and forbade foreigners from owning or running companies.
Effectively forcing tens of thousands of foreigners out of the country, including virtually all of Alexandria's once 150,000-strong Greek community.
Today's Alexandria is a dusty seaside Egyptian town with an over-inflated population, yet its status as Egypt's leading port keeps business humming, and tourists still flock to the beaches in the summertime.
While much of the city is badly in need of a lick of paint, history both ancient and modern is everywhere if you peer closely enough.
The French-style parks and the occasional French street sign survive as a legacy of Napoleon, one of Alexandria's many conquerors, and the few remaining Greek restaurants and cafés still dominate the cultural scene.
The Islamic prophet, Muhammad's first interaction with the people of Egypt occurred in 628, during the Expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha (Hisma).
He sent Hatib bin Abi Baltaeh with a letter to the king of Egypt or Emperor Heraclius and Alexandria called Muqawqis.
In the letter Muhammad said: "I invite you to accept Islam, Allah the sublime, shall reward you doubly. But if you refuse to do so, you will bear the burden of the transgression of all the Copts".
During this expedition one of Muhammad's envoys Dihyah bin Khalifa Kalbi was attacked, Muhammad sent Zayd ibn Haritha to help him.
Dihya approached the Banu Dubayb a tribe which converted to Islam and had good relations with Muslims for help.
When the news reached Muhammad, he immediately dispatched Zayd ibn Haritha with 500 men to battle.
The Muslim army fought with Banu Judham, killed several of them inflicting heavy casualties, including their chief, Al-Hunayd ibn Arid and his son, and captured 1000 camels, 5000 of their cattle and 100 women and boys.
The new chief of the Banu Judham who had embraced Islam appealed to Muhammad to release his fellow tribesmen, and Muhammad released them.
In July 1954, the city was a target of an Israeli bombing campaign that later became known as the Lavon Affair.
On 26 October 1954, Alexandria's Mansheya Square was the site of a failed assassination attempt on Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Europeans began leaving Alexandria following the 1956 Suez Crisis that led to an outburst of Arab nationalism.
The nationalization of property by Nasser, which reached its highest point in 1961, drove out nearly all the rest.
The temple was built in the Ptolemy era and dedicated to Osiris, which finished the construction of Alexandria.
It is located in Abusir, the western suburb of Alexandria in Borg el Arab city. Only the outer wall and the pylons remain from the temple.
There is evidence to prove that sacred animals were worshiped there. Archaeologists found an animal necropolis near the temple.
Remains of a Christian church show that the temple was used as a church in later centuries. Also found in the same area are remains of public baths built by the emperor Justinian, a seawall, quays and a bridge.
Near the beach side of the area, there are the remains of a tower built by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The tower was an exact scale replica of the destroyed Alexandrine Pharos Lighthouse.
The most famous mosque in Alexandria is El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque in Bahary. Other notable mosques in the city include Ali ibn Abi Talib mosque in Somouha, Bilal mosque, al-Gamaa al-Bahari in Mandara, Hatem mosque in Somouha.
Hoda el-Islam mosque in Sidi Bishr, al-Mowasah mosque in Hadara, Sharq al-Madina mosque in Miami, al-Shohadaa mosque in Mostafa Kamel, Al Qa'ed Ibrahim Mosque, Yehia mosque in Zizinia, Sidi Gaber mosque in Sidi Gaber, and Sultan mosque.
Alexandria is the base of the Salafi movement's in Egypt. Al-Nour Party, which is based in the city and overwhelmingly won most of the Salafi votes in the 2011–12 parliamentary election, supports the president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
After Rome and Constantinople, Alexandria was considered the third-most important seat of Christianity in the world.
The Pope of Alexandria was second only to the bishop of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire until 430. The Church of Alexandria had jurisdiction over most of the continent of Africa.
After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, 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.
The Melkites went on to 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 Takla Haymanot's Church in Ibrahimeya.
The most important Eastern Orthodox churches in Alexandria are Agioi Anárgyroi Church, Church of the Annunciation, Saint Anthony Church, Archangels Gabriel & Michael Church, Taxiarchon Church, Saint Catherine Church, Cathedral of the Dormition in Mansheya.
Church of the Dormition, Prophet Elijah Church, Saint George Church, Church of the Immaculate Conception in Ibrahemeya, Saint Joseph Church in Fleming, Saint Joseph of Arimathea Church, Saint Mark & Saint Nektarios Chapel in Ramleh, Saint Nicholas Church, Saint Paraskevi Church. Saint Sava Cathedral in Ramleh, Saint Theodore Chapel and the Russian church of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Alexandria, which serves the Russian speaking community in the city.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Alexandria in Egypt-Heliopolis-Port Said has jurisdiction over all Latin Church Catholics in Egypt. Member churches include Saint Catherine Church in Mansheya and Church of the Jesuits in Cleopatra.
The city is also the nominal see of the Melkite Greek Catholic titular Patriarchate of Alexandria generally vested in its leading Patriarch of Antioch and the actual cathedral see of its Patriarchal territory of Egypt, Sudan and South Sudan, which uses the Byzantine Rite.
The nominal see of the Armenian Catholic diocese of Iskandkeriya for all Egypt and Sudan, whose actual cathedral is in Cairo, a suffragan of the Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia, using the Armenian Rite.
The Saint Mark Church in Shatby, founded as part of Collège Saint Marc, is multi-denominational and holds liturgies according to Latin Catholic, Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox rites.
Alexandria was a major center of the cosmopolitan religious movement called Gnosticism today mainly remembered as a Christian heresy.
Alexandria's once-flourishing Jewish community declined rapidly following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, after which negative reactions towards Zionism among Egyptians led to Jewish residents in the city, and elsewhere in Egypt, being perceived as Zionist collaborators.
Most Jewish residents of Egypt fled to the newly established Israel, France, Brazil and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s.
The community once numbered 50,000 but is now estimated at below 50. The most important synagogue in Alexandria is the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue.
Alexandria has 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 notably its Faculty of Medicine & Faculty of Engineering.
In addition, Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology in New Borg El Arab city, its is a research university set up in collaboration between the Japanese and Egyptian governments in 2010.
The Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport is a semi-private educational institution that offers courses for high school, undergraduate level, and postgraduate students.
It is considered the most reputable university in Egypt after the AUC American University in Cairo because of its worldwide recognition from board of engineers at UK & ABET in US.
Universite Senghor is a private French university that focuses on the teaching of humanities, politics and international relations, 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.
Alexandria has a long history of foreign educational institutions. The first foreign schools date to the early 19th century, when French missionaries began establishing French charitable schools to educate the Egyptians.
Today, the most important French schools in Alexandria run by Catholic missionaries include Collège de la Mère de Dieu, Collège Notre Dame de Sion, Collège Saint Marc, Ecoles des Soeurs Franciscaines (four different schools).
Ecole Girard, Ecole Saint Gabriel, Ecole Saint-Vincent de Paul, Ecole Saint Joseph, Ecole Sainte Catherine, and Institution Sainte Jeanne-Antide.
As a reaction to the establishment of French religious institutions, a secular mission established Lycee el-Horreya, which initially followed a French system of education, but is currently a public school run by the Egyptian government.
The only school in Alexandria that completely follows the French educational system is Lycee Français d'Alexandrie or Ecole Champollion.
It is usually frequented by the children of French expatriates and diplomats in Alexandria. The Italian school is the Istituto Don Bosco.
English schools in Alexandria are becoming the most popular schools. English language schools in the city include: Riada American School, Riada Language School, Alexandria Language School, Future Language School.
Future International Schools Future IGCSE, Future American School and Future German school, Alexandria American School, British School of Alexandria, Egyptian American School.
Pioneers Language School, Princesses Girls' School, Sidi Gaber Language School, Taymour English School, Sacred Heart Girls' School, Schutz American School, Victoria College, El Manar Language School for Girls previously called Scottish School for Girls.
Kawmeya Language School, El Nasr Boys' School previously called British Boys' School, and El Nasr Girls' College.
There are only two German schools in Alexandria which are Deutsche Schule der Borromarinnen (DSB of Saint Charles Borromé) and Future Deutsche Schule.
The Montessori educational system was first introduced in Alexandria in 2009 at Alexandria Montessori.
The most notable public schools in Alexandria include El Abbassia High School and Gamal Abdel Nasser High School.
Alexandria is served by Alexandria International Airport and Borg El Arab Airport which is located about 25 km (16 mi) away from the city center.
From late 2011, Alexandria International Airport was to be closed to commercial operations for two years as it underwent expansion, with all airlines operating out of Borg El Arab Airport from then onwards, where a brand new terminal was completed in February 2010.
In 2017 the government officially announced that Alexandria International Airport will shut down for good due to operational reasons, after having initially announced that it was to open during mid-2017.
Alexandria's intracity commuter rail system extends from Misr Station or Alexandria's primary intercity railway station to Abu Qir, parallel to the tram line.
The commuter line's locomotives operate on diesel, as opposed to the overhead-electric tram.
Alexandria plays host to two intercity railway stations: the aforementioned Misr Station in the older Manshia district in the western part of the city and Sidi Gaber railway station in the district of Sidi Gaber in the center of the eastern expansion in which most Alexandrines reside.
Both of which also serve the commuter rail line. Intercity passenger service is operated by Egyptian National Railways.
An extensive tramway network was built in 1860 and is the oldest in Africa. The network begins at the El Raml district in the west and ends in the Victoria district in the east.
Most of the vehicles are blue in color. Some smaller yellow-colored vehicles have further routes beyond the two main endpoints. The tram routes have one of four numbers: 1, 2, 5, and 6.
All four start at El Raml, but only two (1 and 2) reach Victoria. There are two converging and diverging points. The first starts at Bolkly (Isis) and ends at San Stefano.
The other begins at Sporting and ends at Mostafa Kamel. Route 5 starts at San Stefano and takes the inner route to Bolkly. Route 6 starts at Sidi Gaber El Sheikh in the outer route between Sporting and Mustafa Kamel.
Route 1 takes the inner route between San Stefano and Bolkly and the outer route between Sporting and Mustafa Kamel. Route 2 takes the route opposite to Route 1 in both these areas.
The tram fares are 25 piastres (0.25 pounds) during most of the day, and 50 piastres (0.50 pounds) after 9pm.
Some trams that date back the 30s charge a pound. The tram is considered the cheapest method of public transport.
Taxis in Alexandria sport a yellow-and-black livery and are widely available.
While Egyptian law requires all cabs to carry meters, these generally do not work and fares must be negotiated with the driver on either departure or arrival.
The minibus share taxi system, or mashru operates along well-known traffic arteries. The routes can be identified by both their endpoints and the route between them:
El Mandara – Bahari
El Mandara – El Mansheya
Asafra – Bahari
Asafra – El Mansheya
El Sa'aa – El Mansheya
Abu Qir routes:
El Mandara – El Mahata
Abu Qir – El Mahata
Victoria – El Mahata
El Mandara – Victoria
Cabo – Bahari
El Mansheya – El Awayid
El Mansheya – El Maw'af El Gedid (the New Bus Station)
Hadara – El Mahata
The route is generally written in Arabic on the side of the vehicle, although some drivers change their route without changing the paint.
Some drivers also drive only a segment of a route rather than the whole path; such drivers generally stop at a point known as a major hub of the transportation system for example, Victoria to allow riders to transfer to another car or to another mode of transport.
Fare is generally L.E. 2.00 to travel the whole route. Shorter trips may have a lower fare, depending on the driver and the length of the trip
Alexandria has four ports; namely the Western Port, which is the main port of the country that handles about 60% of the country’s exports and imports, Dekhela Port west of the Western Port.
The Eastern Port which is a yachting harbor, and Abu Qir Port at the northern east of the governorate. It is a commercial port for general cargo and phosphates
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, 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 source of controversy.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002, near the site of the old Library.
The Alexandria National Museum was inaugurated 31 December 2003. It is located in a restored Italian style palace in Tariq El Horreya Street formerly 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 other 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.
- The Cavafy Museum
- The Graeco-Roman Museum
- The Museum of Fine Arts
- The Royal Jewelry Museum
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, 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 as surfing, jet-skiing and water polo are practiced on a lower scale. The Skateboarding culture in Egypt started in this city.
The city is also home to the Alexandria Sporting Club, which is especially known for its basketball team, which traditionally provides the country's national team with key players.
The city hosted the AfroBasket, the continent's most prestigious basketball tournament, on four occasions in 1970, 1975, 1983 and 2003.
Alexandria has four stadiums:
- Alexandria Stadium
- Borg El Arab Stadium
- El Krom Stadium
- Harras El Hodoud Stadium
Other less popular sports like tennis and squash are usually played in private social and sports clubs, like:
Acacia Country Club
Alexandria Sporting Club – in "Sporting"
Alexandria Country club
El-Ittihad El-Iskandary Club
Haras El Hodood Club
Lagoon Resort Courts
Smouha SC – in Smouha
Alexandria Opera House, where classical music, Arabic music, ballet, and opera are performed.
Alexandria is a main summer resort and tourist attraction, due to its public and private beaches and ancient history and Museums, especially the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, based on reviving the ancient Library of Alexandria.
One of the main tourism attractions that start every year from the city is Cross Egypt Challenge.
Started in 2011, Cross Egypt Challenge is an international cross-country motorcycle and scooter rally conducted throughout the most difficult tracks and roads of Egypt.
Alexandria is known as the yearly starting point of Cross Egypt Challenge and a huge celebration is conducted the night before the rally starts after all the international participants arrive to the city.
Alexandria has a Mediterranean climate, with warm humid summers and mild rainy winters. The daytime can be humid in summer, with summer temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F), but evenings are usually cooler and breezy, especially by the Corniche.
Winters can get cold, with daytime highs down sometimes to 12°C (53°F), with ocassional rain and sometimes hail. Humidity is high throughout the year.
The best time to visit Alexandria is in spring (March-June) and autumn (September-November), since it's at its busiest in summer, when Egyptians flock down to escape the searing heat of Cairo.
Alexandria's primary promenade is the seaside Corniche. At the western tip lies the fort of Qait Bey, built near the presumed site of the former Lighthouse or Pharos in Greek, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The eastern shore sprawls for miles on end with the slums and tenements of modern Alex.
Alexandria is easily reached by plane, train or bus.
Since December 2011, Alexandria's main airport is Borg el Arab Airport, serving mainly destinations in the Middle-East and North Africa, but also Milano-Bergamo (Air Arabia), Athens (Egypt Air), Istanbul and Beyrouth.
It's not very conveniently located some 45 km (23 mi) to the south-west of Alexandria.
Getting to and from the airport is a major concern as there are few affordable options to get to Alexandria. In most cases a taxi service will be needed, cost 130 to 160LE, or 15-20 Euros.
The only other option are the two daily buses in each direction 9am, 2pm from Alexandria bus station and 10:30am and 4:30pm from the airport; cost around 10LE.
From the Alexandria bus station to downtown Alexandria or the other way around, a taxi costs 10-15LE. However, these buses have no longer been available since before January 2014.
For travelers on a budget, it would often be cheaper to fly into Cairo and take a bus or train to Alexandria.
The airport has no official website, the ones that are online are from private operators, but for information it is possible to contact the very helpful English speaking information desk.
To reserve a taxi there is only one taxi service located in the airport. El Mistria travel.
Other taxi drivers are to be found outside, but beware of taxi drivers offering prices lower than 130LE, as they sometimes pronounce One zero six pounds really meaning 160LE. Egyptians also may say "one hundred and half", meaning 150.
Several bus companies offer a bus service into Alexandria at a very low price range: 20-35 LE. Buses are air conditioned and come complete with a hostess trolley service.
Companies include Golden Arrow, West Delta, Super Jet, Pullman and El Gouna. Operating times vary from one company to another, but there are trips between Cairo and Alexandria virtually every hour from early morning untill midnight.
Note that while the buses themselves are perfectly comfortable, the duration of your journey from Cairo to Alexandria and vice versa will depend on your pick-up/drop-off point.
Most buses start out from the Almaza Bus Station in Heliopolis and stop by Midan Tahrir and Giza before finally setting out to Alexandria; if you join from Heliopolis expect a 4-5 hour trip rather than the average 2-3.
There are a number of bus pick-up/drop-off points inside Alexandria. These are usually either at Maw'if Gadid Station except El Gouna, which uses Sidi Gaber station which is a bit far from the city of Alexandria so it shouldn't cost more than a 10 LE cab ride, 15 LE maximum.
Don't take a taxi with anyone that approaches you right outside of the bus. Walk outside the station and catch a taxi there if you must.
There is also a bus from Maw'if Gadid to Sidi Gabr, and from Sidi Gabr most parts of the city are accessible by minibus or tram if you are looking to save money. The bus fare will run you 50 piasters.
From Cairo, frequent trains from Ramses Station are probably the best way to get to Alexandria.
Trains run at least once every hour from 6 AM to 10 PM, but try to choose either an express or the pride of Egyptian Railways, the French-built Turbo, which takes only 2 hours 10 minutes for the journey.
1st class AC tickets cost 36-52LE one-way and 2nd class tickets range from 19 to 36LE, depending on the train. Reservation is obligatory in express trains.
It's best to buy a ticket the day before at the train station or online from the Egyptian railways website.
Although it is not advised to do so, some travelers have managed to get on the ordinary non AC 2nd and 3rd class trains.
Tickets for these trains are not sold to foreigners at ticket counters or online. The only way to ride these extremely packed trains is to hop on and pay on board.
From Alexandria, trains depart from Misr Station, a 10-minute stroll south of the Corniche along Nabi Daniel St, as well as the Sidi Gaber Station.
There are no more trains from Mersa Matruh to Alexandria.
There are two options when traveling from Cairo to Alexandria by car. Using either route, the journey usually takes around 3 hours, depending on speed and surrounding traffic.
The Agriculture road has a speed limit of 90 km/hr for private cars and has 4 lanes in each direction. This is the main road, so it can get a little crowded. Also offers access to Damnhour and Tanta.
The Desert road has a speed limit of 100 km/hr for private cars and has 4 lanes in each direction. This crosses the desert and is less crowded and faster. There are cafeterias every few kilometers.
The usual cautions for driving in Egypt apply.
Visemar Lines operates a weekly passanger ferry from Venice to Alexandrias, via Tartus in Syria.
Depature time is every Wednesday at 4PM, arriving the following Sunday at 2PM, this is the only way of reaching Egypt direct from Europe. However, the ferry have been canceled.
Alexandria is quite a long city; you can get pretty much anywhere by using the local transportation available along the Corniche.
Alexandria's yellow and black taxis are a good way to travel in the city, and a cheap one as well.
Be careful though taxis will uniformly refuse to use meters, the rates haven't been adjusted in years and drivers love to take advantage of non-Alexandrians, so it's best to agree on the fare before you get in.
No taxi ride between any two points in the city should cost more than 25LE. Alternately, if you are on a day trip to Alexandria, hire a taxi outside the railway station for the day and pay LE 10-15 per place.
If you plan to see 5 places in 3-4 hours, pay around LE 50-60 to the driver or LE 80-100 if you plan to see 8-10 places in 5-6 hours.
To get into a taxi, wave at the driver and yell the name of your destination. If the driver agrees they would park at the side of the road as soon as possible.
Some taxis will stop to pick you up even if they already have a passenger, but such offers are best refused.
Always check back once you get out of the taxi, there is no number to call if you lose anything of value, and nearly no chances of having it returned.
Fast Call taxis, these are expensive but generally much better than ordinary black and and bright yellow cabs.
Alexandria has a creaky, slow but very cheap tram system that dates back to 1860 and looks the part it's the oldest one still running in Africa.
The route map is remarkably confusing and changes on a regular basis, but one factor stays constant, the network is split into the interurban Ramleh Lines (Tram el-Raml), which use blue-and-cream trams and run across the city a few blocks back from the sea towards the eastern suburbs.
The City Lines (Tram el-Madina), which use bright yellow trams and run west and south of central Alex.
The two meet at Raml Station or Mahattat el-Raml, right at the heart of Alex. For both lines, the flat fare is a whopping 50 piasters (~US$0.05), and tickets can be bought on board.
Note that the first car out of three in the blue trams is reserved for women only.
Probably the most useful service for tourists is yellow tram #25, which runs from Raml Station to Ras el-Tin and Fort Qait Bey.
You can also hop on any blue tram west from Sidr Gabr bus/railway station to get to Raml, but not all eastbound trams stop there.
There are a variety of local bus services which have improved significantly in the past few years, but they are rather confusing for those who haven't lived in Alexandria for a while.
Apart from city buses, you will also find mini-buses, which work on hop-and-go basis. They are easily recognizable 14-person buses, which will stop when you wave and stop where you need to get off.
The drivers rarely speak English, so make sure you know the Arabic name of your destination or that you already know where to stop. The routes are usually along the main streets and cost between LE 0.50-1.50.
Historical monuments in Alexandria
Citadel of Qaitbay, Ras el-Tin yellow tram #25, 9AM-4PM. One of the icons of the city at a beautiful location, the fortress overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and the city itself.
Built by Mameluke Sultan Abdul-Nasser Qa'it Bay in 1477 AD but razed and reconstructed twice since.
This citadel was built in 1480 by Sultan Qaitbay on the site of the Pharos Lighthouse, to protect the city from the crusaders who used to attack the city by sea.
The Citadel is situated at the entrance of the eastern harbor on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The lighthouse continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest, then several disasters occurred and the shape of lighthouse was changed to some extent, but it still continued to function.
During the 11thcentury an earthquake destroyed the top of the lighthouse and the bottom was used as a watchtower.
A small Mosque was built on the top. About 1480 A.D the place was fortified as part of the coastal defensive edifices.
Later castle looking citadel was built as a prison for princes and state-man. Now it’s a Maritime Museum. LE 25, LE 15 for a student.
Cemetery of Mostafa Kamel. The cemetery includes four tombs dating from the second century BC, all of which are in excellent condition and beautifully decorated.
The cemetery bears the name of Mostafa Kamel, one of Egypt's largest political twentieth century legends. It was he who pronounced the famous phrase: If I was not born as an Egyptian, I would like to be an Egyptian.
Kom el-Shouqafa, Karmouz. Kom el-Shouqafa is the Arab translation of the ancient Greek name, Lofus Kiramaikos, meaning mound of shards or potsherds.
Its actual ancient Egyptian name was Ra-Qedillies, and it lies on the site where the village and fishing port of Rhakotis, the oldest part of Alexandria that predates Alexander the Great, was located.
The underground tunnels of the catacombs lie in the densely populated district of Karmouz to the east of Alexandria.
The catacombs were most probably used as a private tomb, for a single wealthy family, and later converted to a public cemetery.
They are composed of a ground level construction that probably served as a funerary chapel, a deep spiral stairway and three underground levels for the funerary ritual and entombment.
The catacombs are unique both for their plan and for their decoration, which represents an integration of the cultures and traditions of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Catacombs- LE 35, LE 20 for a student.
Pompey's Pillar, Karmouz. An ancient monument, this 25-meter-high granite column was constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 297.
The confined area where the column stands also has other ruins and sculptures such as the Serapium oracle.
Also beside this area is a very big shopping center for cloth and furniture called El-Saa3a, where you can find many types of cloth or clothes. LE 20, LE 15 for a student.
Roman Theatre, Kom El-Dikka. Built in the 2nd century AD, this Roman amphitheater has 13 semicircular tiers made of white and gray marble, with marble seats for up to 800 spectators, galleries and sections of mosaic-flooring.
In Ptolemaic times this area was the Park of Pan, a pleasure garden surrounded by Roman villas and baths. LE 15 foreigner/2 Egyptian.
Montazah Palace, El Montazah. Built in 1892 by Abbas II of Egypt Abbas Hilmi Pasha, the last khedive of Egypt.
One of the palace buildings, the Haramlek, now contains a casino on the ground floor and a museum of royal relics on the upper levels, while the Salamlek has been converted into a luxury hotel.
Parts of the extensive gardens over 200 acres are open to the public. There is a entrance fee for the park. LE 5.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mansheya. Egypt has a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honoring it's military.
Ras el-Tin Palace, Ras el-Tin. Not open to visitors, alas.
Presidential Palace, Montazah.
Alexandria National Museum, Latin quarter, History Museum with more than 1800 archaeological pieces exhibited chronologically.
The basement is devoted to Prehistoric and Pharonic times; first floor to the Graeco-Roman period; second floor to the Coptic and Islamic era that highlights artifacts raised during recent underwater excavations.
Graeco-Roman Museum, Latin quarter. A history museum with a vast collection mostly dating from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, spanning the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.
Museum of Fine Arts, Moharram Bey. It contains a lot of royal and precious jewels.
National Institute For Oceanography & Fisheries, Anfoushi. Aquarium and museum displays.
Royal Jewelry Museum, zezenia. It contains a lot of royal and precious jewels. It has been reopened to the public recently after renovation.
El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque, Anfoushi. Built in 1775 by Algerians, the mosque was built over the tomb of the famous thirteenth century sufi saint, Ahmed Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi .
The walls of the mosque are dressed in artificial stone, while the minaret, located on the south side, stands at 73 metres.
Attarine Mosque, Attarine. Originally a church dedicated to the Saint Athanasius in 370 and was converted into a mosque following the Muslim conquest of Egypt.
Alexandrina, ShatbyOpen daily except Fridays from 11 AM to 6:00 PM. A huge modern library and research center constructed near the site of the former Library of Alexandria.
It has also a big conference center and a planetarium, as well as displays of ancient texts from the collection (LE 40) and other special exhibitions (free). LE 80 (non-Egyptians), LE 5 (student).
Corniche. The Corniche is a glorious 15km walkway (wharf/pier/boardwalk) along the harbour dotted with restaurants, markets and historic sights.
Activities in Alexandria
Sunbathe at the Maa'moura Beach or Montazah Beach. During summer the beaches are packed with Egyptian tourists, parasols and plastic chairs.
At this time the sand and water may have some throwaway plastic floating around. Some areas charge LE 20 and it will get you more space.
Montazah Royal Gardens Though the gardens are a part of the more than three hundred and fifty acre grounds of the large royal home known as the Muntazah Palace, the Montazah Royal Gardens take up more than half of the property.
Montazah Royal Gardens are situated along the shore as well, which means access to the lovely beaches and warm Mediterranean Sea waters nearby.
The Montazah Royal Gardens are a bit unique where city parks and public spaces are concerned as they are rigorously landscaped, and well-stocked with benches and wading or swimming pools that are open for the public to enjoy.
Also in Montazah, Montazah Water Sports, provide various water sports, from waterskiing to wake-boarding, even Banana Boat and Donuts.
Hire a boat and go cruising at Ras el-Tin.
Have a long walk by the beautiful Corniche by the Mediterranean Sea.
Alexandria Stadium or Harras El-Hedoud Stadium, Lumumba Street or Max, Tell any taxi driver Al-Istad and he will know where to take you.
If it is a Harras El-Hedoud match then tell the taxi driver Istad El Max. Attend an Egyptian League soccer game.
Alexandria teams are: El-Ittihad, El-Olympi, Harras El-Hedoud, and Smouha. A seat can vary from 25 LE - 500 LE depending on the section of seating.
There are 4 sections of seating: VIP, 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree. If you are a foreigner I recommend to sit in the VIP section to avoid harassment from hardcore fans. 25-500 LE.
Casino Austria of Egypt -B CP W, The Casino Austria of Egypt is open to Foreigners only. It is also known as the El-Salamlek Palace Casino.
Games include Blackjack, Roulette, Punto Banco, Slot Machines and Caribbean Stud Poker. The Casino Austria of Egypt is located at the El-Salamlek Palace Hotel in Alexandria.
Cinemas in Alexandria
Al-Amirate Cinema -B W, Enjoy with us the best of movies with dinner in a splendid atmosphere of elegance and luxury in Al-Amirate Cinema. The Cinema is located at the El-Salamlek Palace Hotel in Alexandria.
Royal Alexandria, This movie theatre in Alexandria is owned by the same people who run the Renaissance theatres in Cairo. There are three screens, with surround sound and all options. Midnight shows are daily.
Cineplex Green Plaza Cinema, 10 screens. Ticket prices cost 25 LE during daytime and 35 LE during night time .3D movies are also screened.
City Center Cinema, Carrefour City Center on the Alexandria Cairo Desert Road , Moharam Bek , Alexandria.
Book Stores in Alexandria
Alexandria's old town has the largest density of bookshops and booksellers in the Arab world possibly with the exception of Beirut.
A particular treat is a long line of pavement booksellers on Nabi Danyal Street, opposite the French Cultural Centre.
Al Ahram, 10 Horreya St.
Book Center of Alexandria,General Egyptian Book Organization, 49 Saad Zaghloul St. Books in English, Arabic, French and German and low priced school books.
Ramada Bazaar Bookshop, Ramada Renaissance Hotel. Open daily 9 am to midnight.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina Bookshop, El Shatby. Open daily 9am to 7pm. The bookshop attached to the library. Good for general and tourist literature in different languages.
Diwan, El Shatby. Recently opened branch of popular Egyptian chain. Comprehensive English and Arabic, fiction and non-fiction. Cafe.
Alef, Alex-Cairo desert road, Le Marche Mall. A recently opened 2 levels bookshop, contains all genres of Arabic/Foreign books.
Alexandria Sporting Club, right in the heart of Alexandria. Built in 1898 and used during the British occupation, the Alexandria Sporting Club is one of the oldest sporting clubs in Egypt.
Today, the golf course stands on 97 feddans, 97 percent of which constitutes the total club area. It is a flat course with tricky bunkers and can be played by beginners as well as experts.
The club also features four restaurants, the Club House Restaurant being the most luxurious, and the Happy Land restaurant serving the children's playground. It also offers party catering.
Smouha Sporting Club, Smouha. International Hockey Stadium, many swimming pools, a number of soccer fields, two running tracks and many more. Members and guests only.
Rent scuba gear from Alexandra Dive and dive through the East Harbour's ancient remains. Be prepared for poor visibility, nonexistent safety procedures and total disregard for historical artifacts though.
Go swimming in the Country Club or Lagoon Resort, in front of Carrefour.
Go dancing at the Centre Rezodanse – Egypte, downtown Alexandria, 15 Sezostris Street, in front of Banque du Caire.
This cultural centre offers regular classes in Ballet, Flamenco, Contemporary dance and Egyptian Folkloric Dance.
Special workshops with guest teachers are also available, as well as punctual cultural happenings like exhibitions, book signing,
Tamarin Centre, Kafr Abdou Street, next to Concrete Shop offers regular dance and fitness sessions such as Salsa, Tango, Aerobics, Fitness, Yoga, etc. Both centres offer a wide range of activities suitable for adults and children.
Alexandria has a tiny industrial section, mainly centered around the natural gas industry. A few expatriates work in this section. This section is increasing now as many new factories are built in Borg el Arab.
Other than that, there are some but not many international schools that employ expatriate teachers. Generally they pay less than the much more lucrative educational section in Cairo.
Alexandria has got quite a large number of language schools. You can find girls-only, boys-only and mixed schools.
Also international certificates -like the IGCSE or the American SAT I and SAT II- could be completed in most of these schools.
Moreover, study is available in English, French and also German.
Many places seem to follow set shopping hours. Winter: Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat 9AM-10PM, Mon and Thurs 9AM-11AM. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday.
Summer: Tues, Wed, Fri-Sun 9AM-12:30PM and 4-12:30 PM.
International Language Bookstore, 18 Abd el-Hamid el-Dib Street, Tharwat tram station or Ramleh Tram. A small and pleasant little bookstore, if maddeningly difficult to find.
It has a pretty decent selection of English-language books if you are into classics, and a lot of good reference books. Decent enough for children's books and beach reads.
El Maaref Establishment, Saad Zaghloul St. Raml station, Yellow tram or Taxi.
Alex Book Centre, Semouha. A big publisher and distributor of English language teaching and school curriculum materials.
Nabi Daniel booksellers, An Nabi Daniel street. Along An Nabi Daniel street, booksellers are lined up selling books in Arabic, English, French, and German among others. Prices are negotiable. Price negotiable.
Olio Tasting Room, 1223 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314. Mon-Thu: 11 am – 7 pm Fri-Sat: 11 am – 8 pm Sun: 11 am – 6 pm.
Olio Tasting Room is modeled after similar rooms across the Mediterranean where patrons can sample a wide selection of Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Aged Balsamic varietal and flavor infused.
Alexandria City Center. Shopping mall with huge hypermarket, coffee shops and cinemas. Take a taxi to get here.
Mirage Mall. A small high-end mall in front of Carrefour. Clothes shops including Adidas and Timberland factory outlets, plus some popular cafes and restaurants including Chili's and Pasadena Roof.
Deeb Mall, Roushdy. Midrange shopping mall with cinemas and a food court.
Family Mall. Midrange shopping mall in Gianaclis Station.
Green Plaza, next to Hilton Hotel. Big shopping mall with many shops, restaurants, cinemas and a court for videos games and bowling.
Kirosez Mall, Mostafa Kamel. A midrange shopping mall.
Mina Mall, Ibrahimia. Another midrange shopping mall.
Maamoura Plaza Mall, Maamoura. Some restaurants.
San Stefano Grand Plaza Mall, San Stefano, eastern Alexandria, next to Four Seasons Hotel. Perhaps the largest shopping mall in Alexandria. Luxury shopping, 10 cinemas, large food court.
Wataniyya Mall, Sharawy St, Louran. Small shopping mall.
Zahran Mall, Smouha. Cinemas and coffee shops.
Alexandria is famous for having the best seafood restaurants in the country.
If you want to eat cheaply in Alexandria, try the places where the locals eat.
Gad, Raml Station. Specializes in fuul (fava bean paste) and falafel. Can be found all over the city.
Kushari Bondok, Smouha, beside Fathalla supermarket. Alexandria's best-known kushari joint, serving up this classically Egyptian dish of layered macaroni, rice, lentils and tomato sauce.
Meto, 273 Gamal Abdel Nasser St. Pizza and its Arabic equivalent fateer.
Mohamed Ahmed, Ramleh station, Opposite the Metropole hotel. Another well-known fuul/flafel joint. This is an unmissable destination in Alexandria.
The fuul and falafel is better than just about any other establishment in Egypt and is incredibly affordable. As a culinary and cultural experience, it should not be missed.
Alexandrian ice cream is similar to the typical soft-serve ice cream, but it is described as being a little bit stretchy.
It is available in numerous flavors, and according to the locals, this type of ice cream is only made in Alexandria and Greece.
Try it at Bahary near Qait Bey, where popular shops include Makram, El-Sheikh Wafik, Azza, and El Se'eedy.
Corn on the cob or dorra mashwey, available at street vendors lining the Corniche.
Mid-priced by Egyptian standards, Western fast-food chains like Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC can all be found in the city's larger malls, but there are more interesting options as well.
Abo Fares, in front of Carrefour. Delicious Syrian food.
Abou Shakra, Smouha Green Plaza and other branches, Popular Egyptian chain specialing in local grills like shwarma (10 LE) and set meals of kebab/kofta, fries and salad (25 LE).
Elite, 43 Sofia Zaghoul. Once the favorite hangout of Alexandria's intelligentsia including D.H. Lawrence, Laurence Durrell, and Edith Piaf, but now bears a distinct resemblance to an American road diner complete with vinyl seating and chipped white plastic tables.
The staff are still French-speaking and appropriately snotty. Try the plat du jour.
Hosny, Gamal Abd El-Nasser St, El Mandara. Middle Eastern food.
Pastroudis, 39, Al Horriya Road, Raml Station. 8 AM-1 AM. Bakery with a sideline in desserts and ice cream.
Tekka Grill, Eastern Port, beside Diving Club, Delicious Egyptian food, with views of the harbor and Fort Qait Bey. Try the shish kebab and the wara' el enab or stuffed vine leaves.
Balba, Sidi Bishr, or downtown in front of City Center Carrefour. There are only two Balba's in Alexandria and in the whole country. The first one is in Sidi bishr and the second one is in downtown.
People tend to like the one in downtown more. It has been known for its delicious meat and especially kofta. It has also a seafood section and the seafood soup is just amazing. About 100 L.E per person.
Many of Alexandria's high-end restaurants are located in its hotels.
La Veranda Restaurant
Al-Farida Restaurant, El-Salamlek Palace Hotel. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. Italian and international food, served in the palace garden with sea views.
Al-Farouk Restaurant, El-Salamlek Palace Hotel. Lunch noon-4 PM, dinner 8 PM-1 AM. French food served in what used to be King Farouk's office at the palace.
Athineos, 21 Saad Zaghloul Sq, on the Corniche, near the Italian Consulate. The Mermaid of Alexandria is a local legend frequented by both Durrell and Cavafy, but alas, it has fallen far since its glory days.
The views are still amazing, and the Greek motifs in the gilded friezes and stenciled frescoes give some character, but the food is, despite the Greek names on the menu, almost entirely Arabized. Order souvlaki and you'll get kebab.
Byblos, 399 El Geish Road In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel, 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. Excellent food and faultless service.
Worth splashing out for a quality Lebanse dining experience with delicious mezze dishes. Caters well for vegetarians. Good wine list with limited choice of wine by the glass.
Good location on the 3rd floor over-looking the Corniche; will be even better when the beach is finished. Allow a minimum of 250 EGP per person. The highlight: an expansive view of the Mediterranean. 250 LE per person.
Chez Gaby au Ritrovo, 22 El Horreya St. Raml Station. 9 PM-1 AM. Possibly the best Italian restaurant in town, serving up pizza and pasta since 1979.
Dynasty Restaurant, 544 El Geish Avenue, Renaissance Alexandria Hotel. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. Alexandria's top Chinese restaurant.
Fish Market, El Gomrok Scout Club. Excellent food, with great views. The sea-bass is top notch. 150 LE per person.
Ibn al-Balad, Mustafa Kamel, Located right behind El-Salam Theatre. Two story restaurant. First floor has grilled meats featuring their famous Ibn al-Balad fattah. The second floor serves seafood. Definitely a meat lovers paradise. 50-150 L.E. per person.
La Veranda, 46 Saad Zaghloul, Inside Patisserie Delices. Conveniently located in Old Alexandria - Downtown Alexandria near hotel Metropole & hotel Sofitel.
La Veranda is the first authentic Greek & French Cuisine in Alexandria. The portions are large and have a homemade feeling to them. The restaurant has a large parking lot available in front of the restaurant.
La Veranda replaced Jardin Delices - a landmark location in Alexandria, which was frequented by the French, English, Italians and the Greeks of the 1940s and 1950s.
There are a lot of posters on the walls of the historic Alexandria. 100 LE per person.
Ole Cafe and Restaurant, Kafr Abdou Street, Roushdy. A reasonably priced restaurant that serves Spanish cuisine, and pastries for dessert. Try the Beef Madrid. Free Wi-fi. L.E. 50.- per person.
Pool Bar & Grill, 399 El Geish Road, In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel, 11:30 AM – 1:00 AM. This seasonal outdoor restaurant is surrounded by lush landscaping and overlooks a stunning infinity-edge pool.
After a refreshing dip, savour a light meal while relaxing at umbrella-shaded tables. Choose from healthy snacks, sushi and sashimi, as well as creative beverages. The restaurant is open in summer only. Seats 76, with 6 at the bar. 100 LE per person.
Stefano's, 399 El Geish Road, In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel, 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. This stylish restaurant serves a selection of authentic Southern Italian cuisine, including seafood specialties.
The open kitchen, chic décor and warm Italian hospitality create an intimate ambience. Seats 60. Specialties: Risotto and fresh pasta. Formal or Smart Casual. Possibly the best restaurant in Alexandria. 300 LE per person.
San Giovanni Restaurant, 205 El Gueish Ave, San Giovanni Hotel. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. West-East fusion. Views of Stanley beach, classical music performed live nightly.
Fresca Cafe and Gelateria, 399 El Geish Road, In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel, 11:30AM – 3:00AM. With its bright, colourful decor, Fresca is a casual place to unwind, relax and enjoy a simple snack.
Overlooking a bustling city street and the calm Mediterranean, this café caters to all moods. Take-out cakes and ice cream are available. Seats 92 indoors, 124 outdoors. Try the ice cream here as well as the lasagna. 150 LE per person.
Sushi etc., 399 El Geish Road In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel, 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. Enjoy the fresh flavours of Sushi etc.’s Southeast Asian cuisine.
Perfect for a light lunch, dinner or snack, Sushi etc. offers soothing views of the pool and the Mediterranean Sea. Seats 66 200 LE per person.
Ottimo, Kafr Abdou 3 (next to Ole restaurant). Nice restaurant with veranda.
La Veranda, 46 Saad Zaghloul Street, Inside Delices Patisserie. La Veranda is famous for its Greek and French dishes, but more importantly, it is the only place in town serving Ouzo.
So if you are craving the famous Greek liquor, go ahead and visit La Veranda. It also serves a wide selection of Egyptian Wine at the best prices in Alexandria.
50 years ago a maze of bars and nightclubs filled the city, but visitors to today's Alexandria often complain that it can be hard to find a decent watering hole. Frequent travellers recommend a number of reliable establishments:
Spitfire Bar, Sa'ad Zaghloul St. - easy to overlook despite its obvious location on the corner of a square on this busy street. The building looks slightly derelict but is clearly marked above the doors.
Walk west along Sa'ad Zaghloul St. from the square for a few blocks until the road opens up in front of you into the beginning of a square. Turn right and the bar is a few doors down on the right. LE 11 for a Stella.
Mermaid Bar - Little and nice bar with good-view to the sea.
Sheikh Ali, Adib Bek Ishak Street off Sa'ad Zaghloul. Better known among travelers as the Cap d'Or and one of Alexandria's oldest bars.
El Qobesi, 51 Corniche, juice-bar. It is nit signposted in English but it is easy to recognize it by fruites hanging around. Marvelous juices fron ashta, guava, strawberry and more others for 5-8 pounds for a big glass.
Hotels and most tourist restaurants throughout Alexandria and most of Egypt are home to bars and discos,
To buy your own booze drop by Drinkie's, a famous liquor store ideally located on the Corniche strip and home to every local drink and Heineken.
Le Bar, 399 El Geish Road, In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel. 5:00PM – 3:00AM. Lounge in one of the comfortable love seats, sofas or chairs while enjoying a specialty martini or an exotic juice. Seats 34.
Bleu, 399 El Geish Road, In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel. 4:00PM – 2:00AM. Fresh sea breezes and a cascade of water on the terrace add to the summer feel of this seasonal outdoor lounge.
The terrace commands stunning views over the blue waters of the Mediterranean, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Bleu serves cocktails, snacks and tapas-style food, and shisha or flavoured tobacco until late. The lounge is open in summer only. Seats 37. 100 LE per person.
In addition to local options, there's a Starbucks in San Stefano Grand Plaza and a Costa Coffee near Stanley Bridge.
24 Seven Cafe, International Garden in front of Carrefour. Popular with young locals showing off their latest fashions. Good food and shisha.
Brazilian Coffee Shop, Raml station. An Egyptian spin on Starbucks, with fancy, relatively expensive but tasty coffee. Medium latte LE 7.5.
Cafe Trianon, Saad Zaghlul square by the seashore, Raml Station. The poshest cafe in Alexandria, famed for the best om ali in Egypt — although LE 14 for what is essentially a bowl of sweet cornflour pudding is little steep.
The food is also good and slightly more reasonably priced, try the moussaka for LE 13.
Cafe De La Paix Sayed Drweesh Resturant, Mohatet El Raml, Raml Station.
Club21, Mo'askar Elroumany Street, Roushdy, Open from 9AM to 4AM. A nice place to visit, friendly staff, tasty food and drinks with an average price of LE 15 for an average meal and LE 8 for beverages. Shisha is available at the garden of the place. Free WIFI.
Omar El Khaiam Cafe, Mohatet El Raml, Raml Station.
New Paris Cafe, Mohatet El Raml, Raml Station.
Patisserie Delices, 46 Saad Zaghlul Street, Raml Station, Built in 1922, Delices' flagship store in Ramleh Station in Alexandria, Egypt has become a well-known landmark for all tourists and local residents wanting to experience the beauty of the Cosmopolitan era.
The store is still managed by the same Family since 1922. Famous for its Cassata or ice cream and Greek Baklava similar to Egyptian Baklawa but dripped with cinnamon and honey.
The humble ahwa, serving up coffee, tea and shisha water pipe is an Egyptian tradition and there are plenty to be found in Alexandria as well.
Try a puff, play a little backgammon or dominoes, and watch the world pass by. These are largely a male domain though, and women will rarely been seen in them.
Alegria. Alegria is the newest hip Restaurant/ Lounge in Alexandria. Pre-reservation is a must and can only be done by their customers on their selected guest list.
On a regular around 400 people show up. Alegria can be booked for private parties, birthdays, cocktails, receptions and small occasions. Many of Alexandria's wealthy and famous show up to this lounge. min charge 120LE.
San Giovanni Club, 205 El Gueish Ave., 10:30 PM - 4:00 AM. Live Music, Famous Singers, Oriental Dancers, and World Famous show stars.
Montreal - Club & Bar. Hotel Azur - Downstairs. Named after the Canadian city, Montreal is a nightclub which offers food and drinks. Drinks go from 25 LE to 50 LE.
Watch your bill as they may add a few extra items. If not, they will ask for additional tips.
Alexandria has a good selection of hotels in all price brackets.
With all the recent political turmoil since the 2011 revolution, tourism in Egypt has really been hard hit. This is affecting the hotel/hostel industry in a big way and many places are often nearly empty.
Prices all over the country have often gone down and it's worth going around to find the best deal for a place to stay.
Some of the prices are only indicative of the usual price, but the actual cost of a room may be lower, depending on the state of tourism in the country.
Hotel Queen Transit Alexandria, 21 Hasan El Shiekh Street, Mansheya, Downtown, sea side Courniche 1st Floor, located in the heart of Alexandria , very new and clean amazing sea view , big rooms 150LE for single rooms 200LE for double room with bathroom + Breakfast + Wifi
Acropole Hotel, Gamal elDin Yassin, behind Cecil-Sofitel, 3rd floor, Excellent and cheap hotel to stay, 110/130LE for single room. Double 157/170LE without/with bathroom.
Across the street from Acropole is the Triomphe Hotel which has similar or cheaper prices but was being renovated.
Nile Excelsior Hotel, 16 Borsa Kadema Street, Manshyia. Cheap but a little dirty hotel located in downtown. The single room including bathroom, A/C and breakfast costs €12/$20 per night.
Rooms could be cleaner, but are adequate given the budget price. Breakfast is simple but enough. Friendly and helpful staff.
Hotel Union, 164 26th July Street on the Corniche and near Raml Station. Suitable for the budget traveler. The rooms could be cleaner, but are adequate given the budget price.
The bathrooms are shared. Breakfast (croissant, rolls/jam, boiled egg, and coffee) is included. There is a sitting area with tables and a view of the water and Qaitbay. It is not possible to book the hotel online.
You need to either reserve by phone or in person. 170 LE double - 150 LE single.
New Wellcome House, near the Metropole Hotel/Raml Station. Extremely run-down for the seasoned backpackers. Same building as Normandy Hotel.
Normandy Hotel, 8 Gamal el-Din Yassen near Raml Station. The Normandy hotel is an excellent place to stay. It is a one floor hotel located on the Corniche, with unbeatable views of the city's Eastern Harbor.
It is the building behind the famous Cecil Hotel, on the fourth floor. The rooms are well-appointed, large and clean, but spare. The bathrooms are down the hall, and also clean.
Staff are very friendly, helpful, and honest. They staff speak both English and Arabic, with limited knowledge of a few other random languages.
The Shatby Youth Hostel may be cheaper than all the above options. Located 32 Port Said St., Alexandria.
For longer stays of a month or more, why not try renting in Alex? Apartments are are easy to come by, in a range of prices 180 - 1000+ LE per week and states of repair.
Landlords/ladies tend to live in the same blocks and will be willing to haggle the rates. Needless to say, it's definitely worth visiting an apartment before placing any money down, preferably in late afternoon so you see how well the lighting works and the worst of any insect problems.
Keep in mind, though, that it's highly unlikely to find any accommodation near the coast that's completely roach-free.
Holiday Hotel, 6 Orabi Sq. A no-frills two-star hotel with private bathrooms and hot water, popular with overland trucks setting off down into the heart of Africa.
Not far from the shore and within walking distance from the center of town. Watch out for bedbugs.
Hotel Delta, 14 Champollion Street, Mazarita Just at the Tram stop. Modern concrete block with 63 rooms, some overlooking the sea. Aircon, cable TV. Not far from the Alexandria Library. US$117.
Most of Alexandria's top-end hotels are located along the shore to the east, a fair distance away from the old city core.
El-Salamlek Palace, Montazah Palace. Housed in the vast grounds of the Montazah Palace, this hotel was built as a lodge for the guests of Khedive Abbas Helmi II in 1892.
Now a five-star hotel and casino, the setting certainly is opulent but, for the price tag, service seems to be terrible.
The location in the vast, gated grounds at the far eastern end of the city, 10 km from the center, is also quite inconvenient for sightseeing, but if you're looking for peace and quiet which is always a rare commodity in Egypt, this is the place. US$400.
Four Seasons San Stefano, 399 El Geish Road, Edging the Mediterranean in a setting of legendary glamour, discover an intimate enclave within the stately Grand Plaza shopping and residential complex.
Indulge in classically elegant accommodations, European spa treatments and terraced restaurants with fresh sea breezes. Four Seasons care outshines all else in Alexandria. Alexandria's top hotel and priced to match. US$500.
Helnan Palestine, Monteza. The hotel, most recently refurbished in 2002, is set on the Mediterranean Sea and is surrounded by 350 acres of gardens and beaches. It faces the Montaza Royal Palace, once home to the royal family. US$100.
Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza, 14th of May Bridge Road. Officially only a three-star hotel, but much better than you'd expect in this class. US$200.
Mercure Romance Alexandria, 303 Tareek El Gueish.
Le Metropole, 52, Saad Zaghloul St. near el-Raml station, Opened in 1902, this is one of Alexandria's two grand old hotels. Recently given a half-hearted renovation, still keeping the turn-of-the-century style.
Centrally located on Alexandria's main street, which is handy for sightseeing, but lower floor rooms can be very noisy. Internet is available but can be spotty.
Renaissance Alexandria, 544 El Geish Avenue, Sidi Bishr, The new hotel will provide 158 stylish renovated guest rooms and suites , excellent dining, 1000 square meters of meeting facilities and a selection of new restaurants and lounges.
Additional amenities include an open air pool, 24 hours full service fitness center, private beach, business center, gift shop and laundry. US$150.
Sheraton Montazah, Corniche Road, Located on the far eastern end of the Corniche. Small, shabby and in need of renovation.
Sofitel Cecil Alexandria, 16 Saad Zagloul Square, Alexandria's other grand old hotel, many of whose rooms are named after famous guests like Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill.
If you're looking for historical character and a central location, the Cecil is not a bad pick, and the soundproofing is somewhat better than at the Metropole. Downsides: No Internet, hard beds, and ludicrously slow service in the restaurants.
Radisson Blu hotel, Alex West, Located up against the water in the trendy Alex West district.
Although crime is rarely violent, beware of pickpockets and don't flash your valuables or wear a bum bag/fanny pack. Street kids, taxi drivers, and others may harass tourists.
They will usually desist after a stern La or two. Or you can say la shukran meaning no thanks or emshi meaning go.
Alexandria is a conservative city, so women should cover their shoulders, midriffs, cleavage and legs. Cover your head when entering places of worship.
Good Places To Explore In Alexandria
El Alamein, 120 km west of Alexandria is the site of several important battles from history and currently home to a number of war memorials, cemeteries and museums.
Also built on the Mediterranean coast, El Alamein was once famously described by Churchill as having the best climate in the world.
Marina, upmarket beachside resort about 100 km from Alexandria
Jordan is accessible via inexpensive flights via discount carrier Air Arabia. They don't fly from Cairo, so this seemingly would be the only discount route flying between the two nations.
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