My Hometown Top Travel

Alexandria, a friendly Egyptian city with great fish and lots of books

The Stanley Bridge in Alexandria at sunset. (Jana Salama/YJI)

Alexandria, EGYPT – Though Egypt is known for its pyramids and pharaonic history in the heart of Cairo, most people know little to nothing about Alexandria – Egypt’s second-most famous city.

It also happens to be where I grew up.  

A group of men at the Al-Mansheya market praying the weekly Friday prayer. (Jana Salama/YJI)

Despite being named for Alexander the Great, the Greek leader and king, the city had an important presence – and several different names – before his rule.

Located on the Mediterranean, Alexandria is a historic hub for knowledge and diverse cultures to thrive, and an ideal location for trading between different empires and kingdoms.  

Today, we can visually understand the importance of such city, because of how many ancient artifacts Egyptians find spanning several civilizations, so much so that if there’s a dig-up happening at a location for some building projects, people just end up finding more artifacts!

Some of the places that house the most ancient history include the Roman Catacombs, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Qaid-Bay Citadel.

Excluding its great history, Alexandrians have their own little culture that’s a bit independent to the rest  of Egypt.

One example is the different Arabic subdialect we possess. Funnily enough, Egyptians already have a unique dialect in Arabic that is completely different from the one used in other North African and Middle Eastern countries.

Another is the fishing culture we have here. It’s known all over Egypt that the fish just hits different – with a superior quality – when you get it from Alexandrian fisherman.

Anglers fish from the Mediterranean Sea. (Jana Salama/YJI)

I would describe present-day Alexandria as a city stuck in time, though it’s not always a good thing. It’s harder for its residents to have their educational or technological needs met, or other opportunities made accessible to them.

The city is also quite small, but I find that of benefit to me, as public transport is not only cheap but can be found in every corner. For public transportation, the city has microbuses, trams, or Alexandrians’ favorite mode of transport – a good walk on the corniche next to the Mediterranean Sea.  

A view of the Mediterranean Sea from the corniche. (Jana Salama/YJI)

It’s been several months since I’ve left my beloved city and moved to Cairo, and I’m always wishing to go back, just so I can smell Alexandria’s heavily salted air.

Where things can sometimes be very disconnected in Cairo, Alexandria can be the opposite.

The people love to socialize.  I quite literally encounter a life-changing conversation with a stranger every other day. The hospitality of the locals and the city’s charm captivates visitors.

View of the city at Al-Mansheya, near the corniche. (Jana Salama/YJI)
The Al-Mansheya market selling Ramadan decorations. (Jana Salama/YJI)

One of my favorite places in the city is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which serves as a replacement to the once-great Library of Alexandria.

It houses books of all genres and professional fields, as well as books that can be read in many languages, from German to Portuguese.

Outside the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. (Jana Salama/YJI)

If you look hard enough, you’d  probably find books in an ancient language. Students from all ages come there constantly to study.

Visitors also come to not only see the books, but also to visit the museum that is underneath the library, which displays artifacts, artwork and photographs that are well worth seeing. Of all that Alexandria has to offer, the library is my most recommended spot to anyone visiting the city.

Jana Salama is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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