Alexandria City was found by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Graeco-Roman Egypt, its status as a beacon of culture symbolized by Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is also the setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony and the center of learning in the ancient world. But ancient Alexandria declined, and when Napoleon landed, he found a sparsely populated fishing village.
From the 19th century Alexandria took a new role, as a focus for Egypt's commercial and maritime expansion. This Alexandria has been immortalized by writers such as E-M- Forster and Cavafy. Generations of immigrants from Greece, Italy and the Levant settled here and made the city synonymous with commerce, cosmopolitanism and bohemian culture.
Dinocrates built the Heptastadion, the causeway between Pharos and the mainland. This divided the harbors into the Western and Eastern. The Eastern harbor was really where the old harbor from the Middle Ages was located.
Of modern Alexandria, the oldest section is along the causeway which links what was once Pharos island with the mainland and includes the districts of Gumrok Gumrok (the oldest dating to about the 16th century and known as the customs district) Anfushi, and Ras el-Tin. The latter two districts date to about the period of Mohammed Ali (1805-49). These districts are known to westerners as the Turkish Quarter. They have had a number of ups and downs over the years, particularly due to the plague during the 17th century. The area forms somewhat of a T-shape, dividing the Eastern Harbor from the Western Harbor.
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