Egypt Day 12 – Exploring Alexandria

The following day we ventured out once more for the last time, this time we headed back along the coastal road, and past the new “Library of Alexandria” and stopped off at the Roman Amphitheatre. Some of it was roped off unfortunately as they’re doing a lot of restoration work to it. Still, we managed to get several photographs that give a rough impression of what the amphitheatre was like. One thing to note there though is that they do not allow video cameras and will check if you have one on you. I had mine on me and had to agree to not use it. They keep an eye on you to, though as we were about the only tourists there it wasn’t difficult.

Pompey’s Pillar

Afterwards we decided instead of taking a Taxi we would walk to our next destination – Pompey’s Pillar. It turned out the place wasn’t that easy to find and we ended up taking a rickshaw there. The place is still very much an archaeological site and there were people digging there when we turned up. The pillar itself is simply huge, it really is amazing how tall it actually is when you’re standing in front of it.

Although it was originally attributed to Pompey as people believe it once had a statue of him on top of it, it is actually erected in 293AD for Diocletian. Some people believe it is in honour of Domitius Domitianus. Standing in front of the pillar are two sphinx’s made of different materials, one of which has lost it’s head.

Underneath the pillar is the Serapeum which is where rituals to the Egyptian god Serapis were carried out. Usually tourists don’t get to go down there as it too is being excavated and has only has temporary lighting whilst they are working there. We were fortunate enough for the tourism policeman guarding it to let us in and show us around. It wasn’t really anything special, but the power went out whilst we were down there and we had to feel our way back out to the surface; still we decided to tip the guard a few Egyptian pounds for having let us go down.

The next stop was a fair old walk across town to a place where no one is allowed to take cameras so we had to take it in turns to enter the premises. The place I am talking about are the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The place is entered via a long winding staircase which leads down to multiple levels. Some of the rooms have the feeling of being grand and “Norse”-like even though the place is Roman-Egyptian. There are a large number of sculpted walls, pillars and sarcophagi but not all of it can be seen as the lower levels are flooded. It was quite a cool place, it’s only a shame this family tomb could not have pictures taken inside.

Roman Amphitheatre

Once we had both looked round the catacombs it was a long walk back to the hotel, made longer by the fact we were trying to find our way to where the old lighthouse was as well – but never found it. Eventually we gave up trying to find out how to get it and took a taxi back to the hotel. The remaining days passed quite quickly and before we knew, it was time to go home to England.

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