Best of Alexandria
Best of Alexandria
Avoid the masses on this outstanding tour of Alexandria's many extraordinary highlights. Your Alexandria, Egypt excursion departs from the Port of Alexandria for the drive to the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Discovered by a donkey in 1900, the catacombs represent the largest Roman cemetery in Egypt and include the remains of more than 300 individual tombs. Constructed in the 2nd century A.D., probably for one family, they were later expanded to three levels cut 90 feet deep into existing rock. They now merge Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultural aspects in their design and decoration. The catacombs are accessed by a series of descending circular steps.
Next, you will visit the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, built on or near the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria, at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. The ancient library was not only a repository of books; it was also a museum, school and the world's foremost center for learning and scholarly research. In the 4th century A.D., a fire destroyed both the library and museum.
Your excursion will include a visit to the new library and a walking tour of the grounds, which feature a museum, galleries and a planetarium. Your guide will explain the architecture and UNESCO's part in the creation.
The Alexandria Museum is housed in the old Al-Saad Bassili Pasha Palace, which dates back to 1923. It is the first museum in Egypt that narrates the history of the people of Alexandria through antiquity, as opposed to being a building storing antiquities. Many of the artifacts within the museum's collection have not been exhibited before. Each of the museum's three floors depicts a different period of Egyptian history.
The Pharaonic collection spans each critical period and includes items from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms. One of the highlights is a replica of a tomb, similar to those in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes), that includes a mummy along with genuine funerary items. Alexandria was a Greco-Roman city of great splendor and there is no scarcity of objects from this period, including artifacts raised during underwater excavations around Alexandria in recent years.
The last floor is devoted to Coptic and Islamic items and includes a variety of objects from Egypt's two most prominent religious traditions. Coptic Christian items include icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and the Last Supper. Among the Islamic objects are a collection of gold and silver coins, decorated pottery, doors and mashrabiya windows inset with geometrical ivory ornamentation. There is also a section devoted to the former royal family of Egypt that includes magnificent jewelry, bejeweled gold and silver awards, and other items from their residence.
Your shore excursion takes you next for a drive along the Mediterranean coast to the Montaza Gardens, 115 acres of gardens that surround the Montaza Palace, built in 1932 by King Fouad and inherited by his son King Farouk, last of the Egyptian kings. Upon arrival at the gardens, you will be served a seafood lunch. After lunch, you will continue your private excursion of Alexandria on an orientation drive. Start with a brief drive through the gardens. You will then make a photo stop at the beautiful Abu El Abbas Mosque, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and near the Citadel of Quait Bay, which sits on the site of the Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria. You will then return to the pier.