- What’s On
Founded in 332BC by Alexander the Great, Alexandria became the capital of Egypt and a rival to Rome, until replaced with Cairo by the incoming Arabs in 641. It was in Ottoman hands from 1517 until 1798 when the French invaded and brought ancient Egypt to the attention of the Western world. After the French were ousted by the British in 1801, Mohammed Ali Pasha, who was born in the Rumeli Eyalet, was installed as governor, establishing a dynasty overthrown by Nasser in 1952. Neslishah Sultan, the last princess of the Ottoman Empire and later the last First Lady of Egypt, is the subject of a 2017 biography by Murat Bardakçı.
In 2002 a new library opened near the site of the celebrated Great Library, which had been the largest in the ancient world. Many signs of the ancient city from the time of Cleopatra have been emerging from beneath the city streets and from under the sea in the past decade or so. The Greco-Roman Museum closed for renovation in 2005, and is said to be re-opening at the end of 2019.
A cosmopolitan melting pot in the 20th century, Alexandria attracted artists and literary figures such as EM Forster, who produced a guide book, Lawrence Durrell, who wrote the Alexandria Quartet (1957–60) and the Greek poet Cavafy, whose apartment is now a museum.