Earlier this week, a devastating terror attack took place in Egypt’s North Sinai region. A bomb was detonated inside a Sufi mosque, and as worshippers fled from the building in fear of their lives, they were shot from afar by gun-wielding ISIS types. At press time, over 300 people have perished and no one has claimed responsibility. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has declared three days of national mourning while world leaders have shown solidarity with the beleaguered Arab nation.
I have never visited the Sinai Peninsula, but I have explored other regions of northern Egypt, where the world’s longest river and the principal water source for countless African nations, the Nile, empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Situated on a jewel of Mediterranean shoreline just east of the Nile Delta, Alexandria is my favorite big city in Africa, and its crescent-shaped Corniche is the focus of this month’s photo gallery.
The picture above is of the eastern side of half-moon-shaped Abu Qir Bay at the coastal center of Alexandria.
View in the opposite direction. These pictures were taken from the rooftop terrace of the classical Windsor Palace Hotel, the perfect place to enjoy a strong, Turkish-style cup of coffee before starting the day.
Connecting the two crescents at a point known as Pharos Island is the 15th-century Qaitbay Citadel, a long but pleasant walk from the hotel.
Numerous photographic and nutritional distractions en route to the citadel included this juice bar. Not a particular good picture, but a colorful one.
Sheep along the esplanade because, why not?
The most recent census recorded a population of 4.54 million people living in Alexandria…usually in close quarters, as the picture above suggests.
Crossing the road to walk along the water and in the shade of palm trees. The corniche, also known as El-Gaish Road, was similar to Havana’s malecón in terms of fisherman, a sea wall, and the occasional dilapidated building, but different in that the road had more traffic and the sound of muezzins calling locals to prayer five times each day.
The striking, sky-high minarets of Abou al-Abbas al-Morsi Mosque. I did not enter, as it was closed to non-Muslims.
I crossed over again to get a picture (nothing special) of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Notice the soldiers making their rounds.
The stunning interior of Qaitbay Citadel, built at the behest of Circassian Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay in the late 15th century. The citadel survived Ottoman rule and still exists today, albeit as a museum.
View from inside the citadel towards the breakwater. Fun fact: stones used to build the citadel originally belonged to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World until a series of earthquakes led to its destruction.
Walking back from the citadel, I stopped to photograph this small beach, which doubles as an informal harbor for fishing boats. I *did* see a few people swimming here despite the pollution.
Cleaner beaches could be found in the upscale district of Montazah (also spelled “Montaza”). Manicured gardens in the country club-like Montazah Palace Gardens, a pleasant taxi ride from central Alexandria, front private beaches and hotels.
Built in the 1930’s, Al-Haramlik Palace dominates the Montazah grounds with its Ottoman façade and Florentine towers.
My taxi dropped me off in front of the stunning Library of Alexandria, one the most beautiful modern buildings I have ever seen. Unfortunately, its sloped, low glass roof makes it difficult to photograph from street level.
A wishing well in front of the library is backed by this marble wall, which in turn is engraved with letters, calligraphy, and hieroglyphics from all of the world’s alphabets. Why so much detail? The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was built over the grounds of the 3rd-century B.C. Royal Library of Alexandria, which was created not longer after the passing of Alexander the Great, and which housed the greatest collection of literature in the world, as many as 400,000 papyrus scrolls according to some estimates (and our friends at Wikipedia). Although the exact date is not known, the library burned to the ground, possibly an act of arson, and all 400,000 works were lost.
It took 45 minutes to sign up for a library card in order to gain access, and photos were strictly of the “no flash” variety. Still, the angular stained glass exterior filtered considerable natural sunlight into the library.
I crossed the street in front of the library (a process that, because of traffic, seemingly took as long as it did for me to get a library card) on my way back to the hotel.
A good distance inland from the corniche, and a good way to spend an afternoon, is to explore some of the city’s Roman-era archaeological sights. One such ruin, pictured above, is the Temple of Serapheum – just another jewel in the crown that is Alexandria.
All pictures were taken with a Canon Powershot camera. All images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise, and should be used with permission only.