The New Student's Reference Work/Alexandria
Alexan'dria, a city of Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great, 332 B. C. Its site is near one of the mouths of the Nile, between the Mediterranean and Lake Mareotis. About a mile out in the sea is the island of Pharos, connected with the land by an enormous mole, on which Ptolemy built the famous lighthouse, 400 feet high, which was called one of the wonders of the world. He ordered as inscription on the lighthouse, the words: "King Ptolemy to the Gods, the Saviours, for the Benefit of Sailors." But the architect, Sostrates, put another inscription on the wall, covering it with mortar on which he wrote the words of the king. In later years the mortar fell off, and the hidden inscription appeared: "Sostrates, the Cnidian, son of Dexiphanes, to the Gods, the Saviours, for the Benefit of Sailors." The city was laid out in squares, with the tomb of Alexander the Great in the center. It was divided into the quarters of the Jews, of the Egyptians and of the Greeks. In the latter were most of the beautiful buildings for which the city was famous, the palace of the Ptolemies, Alexandrian Library of ancient times, the museum, the court of justice and the temple of the Cæsars. This temple Julius Cæsar adorned with the two "Cleopatra's needles," which he brought from Heliopolis, and which have been given to England (1877) and to America (1880). Alexandria has been a great center of trade at different times in its history. The rise of Constantinople and the discovery of the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope took away its importance; but the opening of the Suez canal has renewed its prosperity, and it is now growing rapidly. The city fell at various times under the power of the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs and the Turks. It was largely rebuilt under Mehemet Ali (who reigned from 1811 to 1848). In 1882 it was bombarded and held for a time by the English. It is now under English government. The modern city is built on the ancient mole. The population is 332,246, made up of a large number of nationalities.