Egypt Tour 4:
Alexandria (Iskanderia)

Okay. Alexander is someone's hero, right?

Alexander, His City, and the Greeks

As part of his invade and conquest tour, Alexander lapped up Egypt and made it a part of his empire. As elsewhere, he named a local city after himself, Alexandria, which the Arabs pronounce "Iskanderia."

Alexander's Empire, like that of Athenians, centered on the sea. Hence, Alexandria sits where the river, the Nile, reaches the water. At first, Alexander appointed one of his general's Ptolemy, as his local lieutenant. After his death, Ptolemy styled himself as emperor and sucessor to Alexandera and fought various wars against the other generals, Selucis, Antigonis, etc.

When the smoke cleared, the Ptolemys reigned as just another pharonic dynasty. Pretty soon they started marrying their sisters. They added some Greek elements to the older Egyptian statues, whenever possible trying to tie together Greek and Egyptian gods. They also built the great library at Alexandria, which became a great learning center.

The last of the Ptolemy's, Cleopatra, emerges as the epitome of the Greco-Egyptian. She married her brother (named, of course, Ptolemy) but intrigued to have him overthrown. In the course of the battle for the city, the Romans burned the Library of Alexandria, destroying volumes supposedly never replaced. After her suicide, the Roman Emperors ruled Egypt as essentially a personal possession of the Emperors.

With the Arab invasions, Alexandria declined as a city. It became something of a cultural backward, the kind of steaming, sensous (but cheap) place Lawrence Durrell portrays in his Alexandria Quartet.

Alexander's City

Quite a view, eh? Mediterranean blue waters

A Greek theatre without a crowd.

This is a tower at King Farouk's ex-palace.

The authors sees how the other half lives.

Here's the palace itself. It's now a hotel and park.

It's nice to be king.

This is only the guest palace!

In the distance you can see expensive summer housing for princes of today.

Related Eyptian Tours:
Back to Tour 3: Luxor, Karnak, and Thebes
On to Tour 5: Cairo

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