Egypt Fascinating Cairo & Captivating Alexandria
Cairo’s an ancient city and today a modern metropolis—it’s one of the biggest cities in the Middle East. The traffic and noise issues to prove it. As long as you’re not looking for solitude, Cairo—the City of the Thousand Minarets—is a splendid place to explore Egyptian history and culture.
The capital Cairo and largest city in Africa, the name means “the victorious city”. It is located on both banks of the River Nile near the head of the river’s delta in northern Egypt. It has been inhabited for more than 6000 years and served as the capital of numerous Egyptian civilizations. Cairo is known locally as “Misr”, the Arabic name for Egypt, because of its centrality in Egyptian life.
Greater Cairo is spread across three of Egypt’s administrative governorates. The north eastern part is known as Kaliobia Governorate, while the west bank is part of the governorate of Giza, and the eastern parts and south eastern parts are another governorate known as Cairo, the three parts are known together as greater Cairo.
The city is marked by the traditions and influences of the East and the West, the ancient and the modern. However, the city also reflects Egypt’s growing poverty, and it struggles to cope with problems caused by massive population growth, urban sprawl, and a deteriorating infrastructure.
Alexandria is Egypt’s Mediterranean port. During the Hellenistic period, it was home to a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as well as a storied library. Today the library is reincarnated in the disc-shaped, ultramodern Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The city has Greco-Roman landmarks, old-world cafes and sandy beaches. Its 15th-century seafront Qaitbay Citadel is now a museum.
The Royal Library of Alexandria 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, and likely created after his father had built what would become the first part of the library complex, the temple of the Muses—the Museion, Greek Μουσείον (from which the Modern English word museum is derived).
It has been 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 lively source of controversy.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002, near the site of the old Library.
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