Palace and Harem Alexandria Egypt about 1892

PALACE AND HAREM, ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT – A German poet has said that Alexandria resembles an orphan child who has inherited from his father nothing but his name. In fact, almost nothing of its ancient glory is now visible. Even its Obelisks, popularly known as Cleopatra’s Needles, have within the last few years been carried thence to London and New York. Some wealthy residents from various parts of the world still make Alexandria their home, and occasionally we see there the abode of a Pasha, whose high walls and latticed windows hint of the beauty which may there be concealed. Few cities in the world, however, have occupied so conspicuous a place in history as ancient Alexandria. Founded and named after himself by Alexander the Great, 332 B. C., it became the greatest centre of commerce on the Mediterranean, the principal seat of Grecian learning, the place where St. Mark first proclaimed the Gospel, and finally a prominent stronghold of Christianity. It is also the half-way house to India, the door-way of Egypt, and the gate of the Red Sea. The Alexandrian School was one of the most remarkable that has ever existed. Among its scholars were Strabo, the geographer; Hipparchus and Ptolemy, the astronomers: Archimedes, the mechanician, and Euclid, the mathematician. Its famous library, when it was burned in Caesar’s time, numbered about 900,000 volumes! Here it was that the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek; and this once beautiful city has beheld the revelries of Antony and Cleopatra, and the murder of Ilypatia. It now has a population of about 200,000, of whom 50,000 are Europeans. But its glory has departed, and though it is still interesting as a cosmopolitan city and a commercial metropolis, the traveler feels that it is now only an introduction to glories beyond, and is eager to advance inland to the ruins of old Egypt, and to “Cairo, the Magnificent.” (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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