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Alexandria, a city that once you land on it you will be surprised by the fascinating mixture between The East and The West. It is very difficult to describe in words. Do not know whether you are roaming the streets of Greece or England or France, or you are enjoying your coffee in one of the cafes of Italy then you will start to live the golden times of pashas with its full detail. Then you return back to the traditional, simple and beautiful life of the original Alexandrian people and places.

This magnificent city has an old and rich history that tells us about the classy nation who lived in this part of the earth.

Since I am currently residing in Alexandria, and since I have heard a lot about the Library of Alexandria, it was necessary to visit and learn about this landmark and the very impressive edifice in the world.

The ancient Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Was not the only a library in the ancient world, but it was the most famous one too, although there were other libraries that preceded it. Historians disagreed about the real founder of the library, some of them attributed to Ptolemy I (Sotir) and some of them attributed to Ptolemy II (Philadelphus). Historically, however, Ptolemy the First was a highly educated and literature lover, so sure that the establishment of both the Synod and the Royal Library was attributed to him.

The library contained more than half a million scrolls, science and mathematics were constantly pushed forward by library’s scientists and secretaries, one of them was Aristarchus, who guided the Earth’s rotation around the Sun and Eratosthenes, who was able to measure the Earth’s surroundings. In the library also Euclid wrote his book known as elements and Heron invented the steam machine, in the library also the Greek translation of the Old Testament Torah was done.

As to the real reasons for the disappearance of the ancient library of Alexandria, it is a historically fact  that the legend was destroyed at the time of the fire made by Julius Caesar in 48 BC.

Modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina

According to Alexandria Tourism website, the dream came true when the University of Alexandria launched in 1972 during a lecture by Dr. Mustafa Al-Abbadi, a professor of ancient history in which he called for the revival of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the UNESCO issued the first international appeal in 1987 to support the project and laid the foundation stone for the ancient library of Alexandria.

The Presidential Decree No. 1 of the year 2001 was issued to consider the Bibliotheca Alexandrina as a legal entity based in Alexandria governorate and follows the President of the Republic. The library has 11 floors, 4 of which are underground, 7 above and is 44 meters high. The library has 10,000 original and rare books, 250 other faxes. At the opening it contained with 200,000 volumes and 1500 scientific periodicals.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is one of the giant cultural monuments and is a beacon of culture, It is the window of Egypt to the world as well as a window of the world to Egypt. It is the first digital library in the 21st century. Selected in Arabic, English and French, as well as other European languages such as German, Italian, Spanish and other rare languages.

Specialized libraries:

  1. Audiovisual Materials Library.
  2. Microfilm Materials Library.
  3. Taha Hussein Library.
  4. Youth Library.
  5. Children’s Library.
  6. Rare Books and Specialized Collections Library.

The Planetarium

Designed in the form of a planet which left its outer orbit to settle in the sun’s orbit. The library, which takes the form of a disk symbolizing the sun of knowledge, the planetarium can accommodate 100 people and gives each of them the feeling that they are in a spaceship swimming among the stars and planets with the sound and light effects.

The Conference Center

It is an international institute for the informatic studies, a center for documentation and research, a calligraphy institute, a museum for manuscripts, and a center for rare books and documents.

Permanent exhibitions

  1. Alexandria Throughout the Ages.
  2. Shady Abdel Salam World Exhibition.
  3. Masterpieces of Arabic Calligraphy.
  4. History of Printing.
  5. Artist’s Books.
  6. Astronomical and Scientific Instruments in the Middle Ages.

Researches Centers

  1. Manuscripts Center.
  2. Calligraphy Center.
  3. Alexandria and Mediterranean Studies Center.
  4. Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.
  5. Center for Research and Special Programs.
  6. International Institute for Information Studies.
  7. Dialogue Forum Center.

The Discoveries Hall

An educational center containing a collection of scientific messages and exhibits.

The Internet Online Archive

Includes 10 billion web pages that appeared on the internet between 1996-2001, 1000 films, 2000 hours of Egyptian and US television broadcasts.

Written by: Suhair Anwar Khan

Photography by: Suhair Anwar Khan (The Modern Library of Alexandria)

Contact the Author:

suhairanwarkhan@gmail.com

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