The entire Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected in the west by the Atlantic Ocean via the Strait of Gibraltar. This sea is surrounded by the three continents of Africa (south), Europe (north) and Asia (east). It is also the sea that connects to the Nile through Egypt and the Red Sea via the Suez Canal.
In total the sea covers an approximate area of 2.5 million sq km (965,000 sq mi).
Around 3 hours’ drive north of Cairo is a lovely stretch of Egypt’s northern coastline running for some 500 km along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The main gateway to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea Egypt is the city of Alexandria. Often referred to as the Mediterranean Sea Pearl, Alexandria is the second-largest Egyptian city after Cairo. It is also the second-largest city on the Mediterranean after Istanbul, Turkey. While it is a very large Egyptian city, I found it to have a much nicer and friendlier feel than Cairo.
Alexandria is where we visited to complete our trek through this region of Northern Africa to the end of the continent specifically to see the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt. The coastline of Alexandria city itself goes for around 70 km.
So far as climate is concerned, the heat in this region is a lot milder than most other areas in Egypt. It was really noticeable after travelling through most of the main centres in this country. There is just a beautiful breeze that comes in from the sea.
Travelling along the seafront
Not surprisingly, the city of Alexandria is built as close to the water as possible. There is the main highway that separates buildings from the sea which means you have a fabulous view of the sea as you drive along the seafront.
All along this stretch, there is a very wide footpath which people enjoy walking along to take in the views of the Mediterranean. So many people also fish from various sections of the path, whereas in other areas there are many local families that enjoy swimming in these warm waters.
With all its accommodation options, Alexandria is just the perfect place to base yourself and explore as much of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt as possible. Although we did not have as much time here as we would have liked on this trip, we nevertheless loved seeing this area of coastline and were very impressed at the lack of pollution.
A visit to the Qaitbay Citadel
The Qaitbay Citadel is a 15th-century fortress located on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island right at the mouth of the eastern harbor. It was constructed on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The fort itself is an impressive building with a commanding view of the coastline of Alexandria. James and I both went inside and were very impressed with how solid this construction was and how large the interior of the building is. The grounds were also impressive and the overall site is extremely well maintained.
The views of the Mediterranean are simply unmatched from here. You can look uninterrupted across 180 degrees from one side of the coastline to the other. The main harbour area in front of the city of Alexandria is also in plain view, looking back from this position.
You seriously can not come to Alexandria and miss this incredible place.
A magic spot to eat
Known as one of the best places in Alexandria to dine, the Fish Market is a seafood restaurant located right along the waterfront. As you enter the building you see the wall of photos of local and internationally famous people that have dined here. You then walk up two flights of stairs to the main area of the restaurant and the incredible views.
We were so lucky to literally dine at the very best table directly overlooking the harbour, the Qaitbay Citadel, the waterfront along the city and out to the Mediterranean. On the menu was the beautiful fresh fish dish prepared in the traditional Mediterranean way. What a lovely leisurely lunch with wonderful service and atmosphere.
Other local sites of significant interest
While visiting Alexandria and the immediate surrounding area, there are a couple of historically significant sites we saw that we thought were worthwhile.
Catacombs of Kom al-Shoqafa
Listed as one of the seven wonders of the middle ages, these Catacombs lie in the western necropolis of Alexandria and consist of three levels cut through solid rock.
Going down a winding stairway you see how deep the ancient Greco-Romans tunnelled into the bedrock. Initially built for a single wealthy family practising a fusion of Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman religion, the Catacombs of Kom el-Shouqafa entombed over 300 mummies!
Not many surviving sites depict a mixture of the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman ancient cultures, but this is true here. According to archaeologists, these catacombs resemble the largest burial site dating from the Greco-Roman period. Discovered in Alexandria (named after Alexandria the Great), what was hidden in the underground burial tunnels for centuries was a blend of different ancient arts and cultures.
The catacombs here are one of the best-preserved ruins of the whole of Egypt and its rich mix of ancient cultures is what makes it so special. We really enjoyed exploring the different levels and learning some history from a qualified Egyptologist and guide.
Otherwise more commonly known as the Alexandria Library, this is an impressive building by any measure. It stands on the site of the original Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, which was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.
Since the demise of the original library, the modern version was built in its place and is a very modern working library spread over 14 floors. There were very many university students studying here, both reading texts as well as working online as books can be read here but are not allowed to be taken out of the building.
It was an interesting visit to a site of historical significance. We really enjoyed looking through this library of fabulous architectural design.
A final note on the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt
There are so many other places of interest around Alexandria such as Pompey’s Pillar (covered as part of a previous post on the Natural Beauty of the Sahara, Egypt), the underwater ruins in Montazah and of course the many sandy beaches and resorts overlooking the crystal Mediterranean Sea, Egypt.
Whatever you do, if you are planning a trip to Egypt, don’t forget to include the Mediterranean coastline. It really does show yet another side to this amazing country.