The Library of Alexandria: A Beacon of Knowledge and Wonder
Alexandria was established as the capital of Egypt in 332 BC. She remained so for around one thousand years until the Muslims opened Egypt and changed the means 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, and the great library of Alexandria. In addition, the library was a major center for science and culture for many centuries.
The ancient library was built by order of Ptolemy the Second in the third century BC, and it was said that it contained 700,000 books and was the most incredible library in the world at that time; This is besides the fact that many great scientists studied in the library, like Archimedes.
The Library of Alexandria became famous worldwide because it was history's first public governmental library. 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 remarkable 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 studied 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 by collecting 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 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 was helping the queen to fight against him. This great fire reached the library and caused massive damage to its building and books.
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 640 AD when the Moslems burned it under the orders of Amr Ibn Al Aas, the Muslim leader who conquered Egypt then. Some other scholars believe that when Amr entered Alexandria, the library was no longer there, and he had nothing to do with its damage and that the library was destroyed in the period of Julius Cesar.
The modern library
The first initiative to rebuild the Library of Alexandria dates back to 1974. However, no concrete steps took place except in the late 80s.
The first step in building the modern library was the declaration of the Egyptian president that he intended to rebuild the library with the aid of 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; the prize was sixty thousand American dollars which Snohetta, the Norwegian architectural design grand company, won.
The design of the new library
The design of the modern library of Alexandria consisted of four underground stores and six upper stores. Therefore, the unique shape of the current library of Alexandria is considered a particular 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 the outside symbolizes the continuity of life as the sun emerges from the sea and goes from the highest point to the lowest point overlooking the sea. The library is sounded by a great wall made out of Aswan Granite, and it contains writing and inscriptions in 120 languages.
The library is ten 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 new library's objective is the same as the old one: to act as a public research library and to support the people of the Arab world and the Middle East to retain their ancient position as scholars and researchers in different fields of science.
The Library of Alexandria is considered the first digital library in the whole world. 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, an audio and visual library, a unique 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 Reserve, call this number 002-034839999 ext:1574
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 additional tickets to enter the other inner museums inside the library and the Skydome. Tickets are sold at the entrance of these showrooms inside the library.
Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 in the morning to 7 in the afternoon.
Friday and Saturday from 3 in the afternoon until 7
The library is closed on Tuesday!