We arrived in Cairo in the early morning; a train to Alexandria wasn’t for a few hours, so we decided to use a minibus for 25 EGP, which ended up being faster.
After checking in our hotel in Alexandria we decided to walk along the Corniche, when we were approached by a horse and carriage who offered to take us around for 40 EGP to three of the main sights, Amud El Sawari (Pompey’s Pillar), Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa and Qaitbay Fortress. The tour would end at the modern Alexandria Library and cost 40 EGP, though he naturally wanted more at the end.
Amud El Sawari (Pompey’s Pillar)
A single piece column from red granite standing at over twenty metre high, there really wasn’t much else to see, that and two sphinxes which flank it on either side.
Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
Now, this was the highlight for me. Unsure what to expect, we paid the entrance fee and made our way onto the grounds, there wasn’t much, a few sarcophagus and tombs. Then we found an entrance to a spiral staircase, and on it we descended deep into the underground. We were presented with an open rotunda ambulatory with passageways that lead to a maze of catacombs leading to galleries and tombs; all that we were missing was a fire-torch in hand. Throughout the catacombs were Roman statues, paintings and even an altar which had rays of sun shining onto it from above. Unfortunately, like most tombs in Egypt, photography was not permitted.
Qaitbay Fortress is situated at the tip of a peninsula extending into the Mediterranean Sea, the original location of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Qaitbay Fortress is an irregular concentric castle with the lower fortifications protecting the inner citadel (or castle). The inner castle in a beautiful square design with rounded towers on each corner. It was what one would imagine a Arabic fort to look like.
Modern Alexandria Library
The modern Alexandria Library (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) was unfortunately closed, being a Friday.
That night we ate fresh seafood at Kaddoura Restaurant, which was recommended by the Lonely Planet. Probably the best fish we’d had for a while.