Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Alexandria, the former capital of Egypt, was founded by Alexander the Great on the coast of the Mediterranean not far from Lake Mareotis, and at a distance of 118 miles from Cairo. At the death of the conqueror Egypt fell to the share of Ptolemaeus Soter, an enlightened ruler, who collected the splendid library, now unhappily destroyed, and built the famous Pharos. His successors prided themselves on making the city a centre of literature and science, as well as of commerce, and when in 48 B.C. it fell into Roman hands there was no perceptible diminution of its lustre. Christianity made one of its first homes there; and the mixture of Greek philosophy with Eastern mysticism that occupied the Alexandrian schools proved a soil fertile in doctrines and heresies to trouble the early Church. Between theological and political contentions the city suffered severely in the later years of the Empire, till in 640 A.D. it was seized by Amru, Omar's lieutenant, who burnt the library and destroyed everything perishable that bore witness to ancient greatness. Two centuries later the Turks became masters of Egypt. The final ruin of Alexandria was completed by the discovery of the Cape route to the East at the end of the fifteenth century. In the Napoleonic era the French and English fought a severe battle close to its walls (1801), and in 1807 the English occupied the place for a few months. Mehemet Ali and his dynasty were established in Egypt by a Convention held there in 1841. A few years later the adoption of the overland route to India restored some degree of prosperity to the port, and in 1851 a railway to Cairo was constructed. A new town sprang up, built in European style, and a new harbour was opened - both to the east of the ancient city. Steamers and trading vessels of all nations frequented the place, which rapidly increased in wealth and population. In 1869 the completion of the Suez Canal injured irreparably the commerce of Alexandria, and the bombardment of the forts by the British in 1882 reduced many buildings to ruins. Few monuments of antiquity remain. The chief of these are the Pillar of Diocletian, known as Pompey's Pillar, which stands to the west of the city, and one of the obelisks called Cleopatra's Needles, the other having been removed to London.