May 2, 2012

Alexandrian Sightseeing, 1849

Alexandrian Sightseeing, 1849
Samuel Bevan

In the evening (Fumer) insisted on my taking another lesson on donkey-riding, so selecting two of the best looking from the ‘stand’ close to our office door, we cantered through the square towards Cleopatra’s Needle, which forms a prominent object on the sea-shore, just outside the town. . . .

Alexandrian Sightseeing
From the Needles we made a long round to Pompey’s Pillar and the Baths of Cleopatra. There is a good view from the base of the former over the Mahmoudieh Canal, which fertilizes in its course a narrow strip of country, and studded as it is mostly with numerous sails, forms a curious feature in the landscape.

The pillar stands out in solitary grandeur from a vast plain of ruins and tombs, the site of ancient Alexandria. Hard by is a little building bearing some resemblance to a temple; this is a refuge for hard-pressed debtors, a strong-hold against all pursuit, and so long as they remain under its friendly shelter, neither law nor remorseless creditor has power to lay hands upon them.

Our road to what are said to be the Baths of Cleopatra, lay through a bustling and most dirty street of low dwellings, to a kind of quay or shipping place for corn, near to which is a group of quaint looking wind-mills with six or eight sails each, the whole in full motion, spinning round with a rushing noise that sorely alarmed our poor donkeys, although it served to prove to us that there was at least no lack of com in Egypt. A dusty gallop of another mile then brought us to the shore, where we tethered our beasts, and proceeded to examine the spot where it alleged the “Queen of Beauty” used to perform her ablutions.

The Baths consist of three or four rocky caves open to the sea, where sheltered from the scorching rays of the sun, the water acquires an enticing temperature, and ripples in and out at a depth of several feet. Close by the Baths, in a sandy cliff, are some excavations of prodigious size, which an old Arab informed us were Catacombs, but as they contain no bones or relics of mortality, and do not even boast a stray skull or two, he found us somewhat sceptical; the old man conducted us through the outermost apartments, having no candles, and the evening closing in, we could see but little of their dimensions, so pitching him a few paras we hastened homewards.

The crowded streets and bazaars of Alexandria, with their blend of people of all nations and ways of life, astonished the newcomer.

Related Web Search :
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  • Alexandria Egypt History
  • Egypt Tourism


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