Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria is the crossroads of the ancient world, and prospered as the Mediterranean’s most glorious city under the Ptolemies, the dynastic Greek family that reigned as pharaohs over Egypt. Our extension includes explorations of the Roman Amphitheater (the only one in Egypt), Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the extensive Alexandria National Museum, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shugafa, the largest Roman burial site discovered in Egypt.
Arrive in Cairo and transfer to the hotel for overnight. (Most trip members take this as a pre-trip extension)...Meals on your own
Alexandria / Roman Amphitheater / Alexandria Library and Museum
With your guide, journey on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road to Alexandria. Upon arrival, 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
Alexandria National Museum / Cairo
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 in the afternoon. Overnight at Cairo group hotel (this is Day 1 of the regular trip)...BL
Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
A visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Egypt. You can obtain your visa on arrival.