Alexandria – Home of the Ultramodern, Fireproof Library

This fortress is built over the foundation of the ancient lighthouse.

Th New Library of Alexandria

Alexandria was the first city we visited after flying into Cairo. The city was built along the coastline of the Mediterranean by the Greeks and named after, who else?, Alexander the Great. It was not technically part of “Egypt” when it was built because “Egypt” as a nation only consisted of “Black Soil Around the River Nile” as our tour guide, Osman, emphasized quite a bit.

Alexandria was once home to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – the Lighthouse of Alexandria. It’s not there anymore. It fell down a long time ago and a fortress was built over its foundation.

We also got to see (but didn’t go in) the new library. If you remember your world history, Alexandria was also home to the largest library in antiquity until some moron burned it down in some sort of protest- destroying much of the world’s compiled knowledge up to that point. I sure hope this new library is fireproof…just in case.

Also, since Alexandria was a Greco-Roman city, there are extensive catacombs below the street, comparable to Rome or Paris. Early Christians used these catacombs as secret meeting places during times of persecution. And I thought our church buildings were uninviting…

Philippi – I think the Macedonians are calling.

This is the possible location of the River in which Lydia and the Jailer were baptized.

To the right of those steps is the traditional site of the jail in which Paul and Silas were held overnight.

This is really the main part of the city. This is all that remains of the Roman forum and the Agora. In the background you can see the remains of a gigantic basilica that was built ca. 400 AD.

When we first got to Philippi, we started at the river which would have been located outside the western wall of the city. This is the traditional cite where Lydia and other Jews were meeting for worship regularly. It could possibly be the river in which the first European converts were baptized, but it is certainly the river in which thousands of Christians have been baptized over the last several centuries. This is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Christians of every denomination. A formal baptistery has been built into part of the river with a small theater on one side for people to witness the baptism. It was incredible being able to wade around the river and sing songs like “As the Deer”.

The main city, as you can see, is still in ruins. Very few parts of buildings are standing. It is mainly just foundations and rubble. The coolest structure still partly standing was one of the basilicas, which still had its four corners standing at least 50 feet high. But this was only one of three or four gigantic church buildings in the ancient city.

As you may know, the famous Via Egnatia runs straight through the city. It was a road built by the Romans that stretched about 350 miles or so, from the port city Neapolis, through Philippi, and on through Berea and Thessaloniki. We got to walk along the road which we know for a fact that Paul walked along as he traveled through this part of Europe.

The city also has a pretty good size theater which is undergoing a massive restoration effort. In this theater people would watch everything from plays and choral performances to gladiatorial battles and executions. I guess that’s all part of being a free Roman colony.