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The Library Of Alexandria

Alexandria and Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The city of Alexandria was established as the capital of Egypt in 332 BC and remained so for around one thousand years until the Muslims opened Egypt and changed the capital to the Fustat, the first Islamic capital in Egypt.

The library of Alexandria had many names because of its greatness and the number and variety of books it contained, including the royal library of Alexandria, the Grand Library, or the great library of Alexandria. The library acted as a major center for science and culture for many centuries. 


alexandria library


The ancient library was built by the order of Ptolemy the second in the third century BC and it was said that it contained 700,000 books and it was the greatest library in the world at that time. This is beside the fact that many great scientists studied in the library like Archimedes

The library of Alexandria became famous worldwide because it was the first public governmental library in history. There were many libraries in the times of the Pharos but it was exclusive for the priests of the temples and the royal family. The library contained the science, civilization, and books of two remarkable periods: The Pharaonic and the Greek. 

The two civilizations of the west and east met in this great library through books and lectures that the library hosted and it was considered the first attempt at the modern concept of globalization.



It was obligatory that any scholar who studies in the library of Alexandria had to leave a copy of his writings in the library. This was one of the reasons the library was rich with books, researchers, and studies that were contemporary at the time. This is beside the books of older periods. The responsible for the library freed themselves from discrimination of all sorts in order to collect all the sciences and ideas of the whole world in one great location.


The burning of the library


Most historians believe that Julius Cesar burned 101 ships that were landing on the Mediterranean Sea shore in front of Alexandria in the year 48 BC. This was after little Ptolemy, the brother of Cleopatra, went to fight Cesar thinking that he is helping the queen to fight against him. This great fire reached the library and caused a huge damage to the building of the library and its books.

The history also recorded when the Roman emperor Thyosyos ordered his man to destroy the library. However, some historians claim that the library stood still till the year 640 AD when the Moslems burned it under the orders of Amr Ibn Al Aas, the Moslem leader who conquered Egypt at the time. Some other scholars believe that when Amr entered Alexandria the library was no longer there and he has nothing to do with its damage and that the library was totally destroyed in the period of Julius Cesar.


The modern library


The first initiative to rebuild the library of Alexandria dates back to the year 1974. However, no factual steps took place except in the late 80s.


The first step in the building of the modern library was the declaration of the Egyptian president that he intends to rebuild the library with the aid of the UNESCO the new library of Alexandria was launched and the dream to reestablish the library once more was shared among all the people of Egypt and the whole world. The library was officially opened on the 17th of October 2002 in the location of the ancient library.

Hosny Mubarak then established the public authority of the library of Alexandria and made an international architectural designing competition and the prize was sixty thousand American dollars which were won by Snohetta, the Norwegian architectural design grand company.


The design of the new library


The design of the modern library of Alexandria consisted of four underground stores and six upper stores. The special shape of the modern library of Alexandria is considered a special architectural germ.

The modern library of Alexandria is located in al Shatby in front of Al Selsela beach.

The oval shape of the library from outside is a symbol of the continuity of life as the sun comes out of the sea and goes from the highest point to the lowest point overlooking the sea. The library is sounded by a great wall that was made out of Aswan Granite and it contains writing and inscriptions in 120 languages

The library is 10 stories tall and has an oval-shaped cover with a radius of 60 meters. The library is divided into reading sections which are 14.4 × 9.6 meters in size. The library was designed to last for two centuries but there are fears that this period might be exaggerated because of its closeness to the sea.

The objective of the new library is the same objective of the old library: to act as a public research library and to support the people of the Arab world and the Middle East to retain their old position as scholars and researchers in different fields of science. 
The library of Alexandria is considered the first digital library in the whole world and it contains a place to include 8 million books, six specialized libraries, three museums, research centers, two permanent galleries, six halls to host art exhibitions, an internet archive, audio and visual library, a special library for blind people, a library for children, a library for teenagers, a microfilm library, the library of the rare books and a conference center.



Library Local Guiding


  • The library offers to guide services in many languages.
  • Group visits can be organized beforehand.
  • To Reservee call this number 002-034839999 ext:1574


Library Tickets:


Tickets for Egyptians:


  • Adults: 12 pounds
  • Students: 8 pounds
  • School students: 5 pound
  • All-inclusive tickets: 8 pounds


Tickets For foreigners:


  • Adults: 50 pounds
  • Students: 15 pounds
  • School students: 5 pounds
  • All-inclusive tickets: 45 pounds


Note: there are other additional tickets to enter the other inner museums inside the library and to enter the Skydome. Tickets are sold at the entrance of these showrooms inside the library.


Working Hours


Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 in the morning till 7 in the afternoon.

Friday and Saturday from 3 in the afternoon until 7


The library is closed on Tuesday!

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