1 comment   |   Egypt, Travel

Montanza Palace

This morning we continue north and view the Mediterranean from

Mediterranean from Montanza Park

Alexandra. This was in fact an extra. Anna and I had initially decided to pass on it and visit the new Cairo Museum. We changed our minds when we found out we were several years too early.

The trip to Alexandra is like changing worlds. We gradually left the filth of

Cairo behind and moved into more and more contemporary surroundings. Completed construction, litter free

Keeping the park clean

streets, clean air.

Telegraph post

Our first stop was in park beside the Montanza Palace. The gardens were built under the monarchy and are quite extensive. We had views of the sea but did not have access as the coast is completely built out.

The palace is regal. We did not enter but stayed in the surrounding park. An interesting feature was the telegraph poles. They are disguised as palm trees.

Kom El Dekka

After about an hour of wandering around we reboarded the coach and headed to Kom El Dekka archaeological excavations and conservation and restoration works. This is another Polish-Egyptian project. Before archaeologists from the University of Warsaw began to excavate this site in the 1960s, it looked like what the name suggests — literally a “hill of rubble.” Now, after the removal of more than 10,000 cubic metres of earth and the construction of a new building to protect the mosaics, Kom el Dikka is an example of the kind of Roman ruins that likely underlie other sections

Riot shield

of modern Alexandria. Though the site is not huge, it comprises a column-lined street, a 3rd century A.D. theatre with 13 intact tiers of seats that accommodated an audience of 600, and the remains of a villa with a series of truly lovely mosaics on the floor. The curve and size of the theatre is impressive, but the most amazing thing about it is that it was originally covered with a roof.

Here we noticed our first mobile riot shield. As a guess, police crouch behind and move it to get a firing position. It was made from very thick steel.

With some help from local Police who stopped traffic, we were able to get back on the coach and head to our next attraction, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The web site says that the Library of Alexandria was reborn in October 2002 to reclaim the mantle of its ancient namesake. It is not just an extraordinarily beautiful building; it is also a vast complex where the arts, history, philosophy, and science come together.

The library has an impressive collection of books but also features some interesting exhibitions. We started by looking at the first computer in Egypt and then browsing a range of printing presses. These were interesting but the real gem was yet to be given to us; the Sadat Museum.

A floor or so below ground this museum was fabulous. There was the usual stuff one expects; medals, biography, Nobel prize etc but the really interesting material was in the photographs. There were shots of him with Jimmy Carter, Leonid Brezhnev and a vast number of other world leaders. It really took me back.

We regrouped in the shade outside. The building is architecturally interesting but impossible to photograph due it slabby sides and proximity to other buildings.

Our next stop was the  Citadel of Qaitbay,

Citadel of Qaitbay

 a harbour front fortress built by a 15th-century sultan. It was built using the stone from the old wonder, the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Unfortunately we did not enter. Of course there was a small market selling pap.

At last it was lunch where we had the most incredible seafood. We began with prawn bisque and it got better. The main meal had a colossal fish, more prawns, squid and mussels. They were cooked in a new style for us and were delicious. We had several side dishes including humus and flat bread. Our experience is that humus in Egypt is a pale shadow of that in

Road to the Grand Pyramids Hotel

Israel, Greece or Turkey. The people who did not eat seafood were given was described as chicken. We were glad we had seafood.

All too soon, lunch was over and we were heading back to Cairo. One last trip along the filthy canal for our last night in the Grand Pyramids Hotel.

  1. Trev Astle07-18-18

    A wonderful insight into a world I will never see. Thankyou David for sharing your holiday with this homebody. Cheers mate.