alexandria egypt qait bey fort 2

Cairo and Alexandria

From Citadels and Mosques to the Mediterranean World

Please note that this extension is exclusively for participants in the Wonders of Ancient Egypt special event.

Overview

Discover Cairo’s ancient citadels and mosques and roam the twisting lanes of the Khan-el-Khalili Bazaar, built in the 14th century, then drive the Desert Road to ancient Alexandria on the Mediterranean. Alexandria was the intellectual and cultural center of the ancient Mediterranean world, and known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Great Library, the largest in the ancient world.  Visit Alexandria’s Bibliotecha Alexandrina, Qait Bey Fort, the Roman amphitheater, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shugafa.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1, Dec 14, 2022
Islamic Cairo / Khan-el-Khalili Bazaar

As we explore Islamic Cairo, we visit the graceful Mohammed Ali Mosque within the ancient Citadel, a spectacular medieval fortress perched on a hill above the city. Originally built by Salah El-Din in 1176 to fortify the city against the Crusaders, the Citadel was modified and enlarged over the centuries by subsequent rulers. Mohammed Ali, one of the last rulers to reside in the Citadel, built what is now called the Alabaster Mosque, where his gilded tomb still lies inside.

We head into the world-famous Khan El Khalili bazaar to enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the bazaar, then explore the labyrinth of narrow streets, discovering artisans building, dyeing, carving, and sewing, as well as shop after shop selling wares from woodwork and glassware to leather goods, perfumes, and fabrics. The Khan El Khalili is one of the largest bazaars in the Middle East. Overnight at Four Seasons First Residence…BL

Note that for your convenience, the night of December 13, 2022, the final night of the symposium program, will be at the Four Seasons First Residence instead of the Fairmont Towers Heliopolis.

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Day 2, Dec 15, 2022
Alexandria / Roman Amphitheatre / Qait Bey Fort / Bibliotecha Alexandrina

Drive to Alexandria on the Desert Road and explore the Roman Amphitheater, discovered quite recently during excavations for a new apartment building. This well-preserved theater once stood with 13 semi-circular tiers of white marble imported from Europe, and contains galleries, sections of mosaic flooring, and marble seats for up to 800 spectators. At one point, it may have even been roofed over to serve as an Odeon for musical performances. Some inscriptions suggest that it was sometimes used for wrestling contests.

We then enjoy a visit to the Qait Bey Fort, a 15th century Mamluk fort built on the foundations of the Pharos lighthouse that includes both a mosque and a castle inside its walls.

After lunch, we visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, not only a library but also an integrated cultural complex. It stands on what is thought to be the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria, built by Ptolemy I. The largest library of antiquity, the Library of Alexandria was frequented by scholars from all over the Mediterranean from the 4th century BC to its eventual destruction by fire 700 years later. Overnight at Steigenberger Cecil Hotel...BL

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Day 3, Dec 16, 2022
Alexandria National Museum / Catacombs of Kom El Shugafa / Departure

Visit the Alexandria National Museum, with its thousands of artifacts spanning the ages from the Pharaonic Era through the Greco-Roman period in Egypt. Papyrus scrolls, perfume bottles, and painted mummy cases are tastefully displayed, as well as classic Greek statues showing the physical beauty that represents the ideals of that culture.

Later, we visit the Catacombs of Kom El Shugafa, the largest Roman burial site discovered in Egypt. The three tiers of tombs and chambers are cut into the bedrock to a depth of over 100 feet. Constructed in the 2nd century AD as a single-family crypt, these tombs were later expanded to hold more than 300 individual tombs. There is even a banquet hall where grieving relatives paid their last respects with a funereal feast. Though the motifs are pure ancient Egyptian, the architects and artists were schooled in the Greco-Roman style, resulting in an amazingly integrated artwork quite unlike anything else in the world.

We return to Cairo after lunch, and you have the option of using dayrooms at the Fairmont Towers Heliopolis Hotel before departing on international flights this evening, or spending the night at the hotel and departing the morning of December 17, depending on your flight schedule...BL

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Details

Length: 3 days
Cost From: $1995  
Arrive: Cairo, Egypt
Depart: Cairo, Egypt
Lodging: 2 night hotels
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level:

Cultural explorations and walking tours