The New Library of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria, one of the most famous libraries of the ancient world, was founded in the 3rd century BC in Alexandria, Egypt. Housed within the royal palace at the time, it's lofty aim was to collect all the knowledge of the world. The great Library of Alexandria is believed to have contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls and texts from various civilizations, making it a beacon of intellectual pursuit and scholarly excellence.

Unfortunately, the original Library of Alexandria met a tragic end, facing several periods of decline and destruction over the centuries. Historical accounts suggest that fires, wars, and political turmoil led to the gradual loss of this vast repository of knowledge, marking a significant loss for humanity in terms of ancient wisdom and cultural heritage.

The library houses millions of books, manuscripts, and digital collections, catering to scholars, researchers, and visitors interested in a wide range of subjects. Similar to its original, classical iteration, the New Library of Alexandria features a wealth of cultural and intellectual offerings, including museums, art galleries, planetarium shows, and academic research centers.

Today, visitors can explore the impressive architecture of a New Library of Alexandria, which blends modern design with elements reminiscent of the ancient world.

In modern times, the port city of Alexandria proudly hosts the New Library of Alexandria, often referred to as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This state-of-the-art library stands as a tribute to its ancient predecessor, offering a wealth of resources, exhibitions, and cultural events to visitors. The New Library of Alexandria, today symbolizes the revival of Alexandria as a center of knowledge and learning.

Visit Egypt With Us

The Library is primarily featured on our classic 14-day tour of Egypt and our Siwa: A 15-Day Luxury Tour of Egypt. That being said, it is still possible to include a trip to Alexandria and the library on any itinerary offered by Inside Egypt as an add-on. Other trips might be:

A tour of the New Library of Alexandria is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant cultural scene of this iconic city. By visiting this modern marvel, guests can gain insight into the past glory of the ancient library while appreciating the ongoing efforts to preserve and disseminate knowledge in the contemporary world. To experience the wonders of the Library of Alexandria firsthand, book a tour with Inside Egypt and embark on a journey of discovery and enlightenment.

Bury yourself in the hallowed hallways and tomes of the the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a gem among the world's most beautiful libraries. Book your Egypt tour package with us and visit this wonder of the modern world!

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Embark on a luxury 15-day Egypt tour, discovering hidden treasures from Siwa Oasis to Luxor and beyond. Begin in Cairo with the Step Pyramid, Giza Plateau, and the Grand Egyptian Museum. Explore Alexandria's historical gems and relax at Siwa's palm-fringed springs. Return to Cairo for iconic sights before flying to Luxor for temples and a Nile cruise to Aswan. Luxuriate on board for four nights, visiting the Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel. Immerse yourself in Egypt's history and culture on this unforgettable journey. Book now for a once-in-a-lifetime experience through the wonders of Egypt.

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Our signature Egypt Vacation takes you on an enthralling 14-day Egypt tour from Cairo to visit Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Au Simbel, and back again, exploring Egypt's most iconic landmarks. Vacation the Egypt pyramids ahead of the crowds and enjoy a peaceful moment to drink in the atmosphere of the Pyramid tours of Khufu and the Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau before tourists are admitted for the day. You’ll also discover the country’s hidden gems with exclusive access to rooms and locations normally off-limits to the public, and sail down the Nile in style aboard our well-appointed cruise ship to delve further into the mysteries of Southern Egypt. Our 14 day Egypt pyramids vacation offers the most in-depth experience of our Egypt vacation tour packages. 

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Embark on a 12-day Egypt tour from Cairo to the Red Sea, starting with the Pyramid of Djoser and historic Saqqara. Explore the Giza Plateau, the Sphinx, and the Grand Pyramid of Khufu, followed by a visit to the Great Egyptian Museum. Witness Abu Simbel Temples' grandeur and cruise from Aswan to Luxor, unveiling royal tombs and temples. Luxor showcases Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple. Continue to Hurghada for a Red Sea vacation, filled with marine adventures and sun-soaked beaches. Conclude the trip in Cairo with the Citadel, El-Khalili Bazaar, and a deep dive into Egypt's rich history and culture.

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This 10 day Egypt travel package vacation offers a unique tour of Egypt that is custom designed to highlight the attractions of four Egyptian cities: Cairo, Giza, Luxor, and Aswan. See the Step Pyramid, Egypt’s first pyramid; tour some of the most notable monuments on Earth at the Giza Plateau; enjoy a comfortable 4-night stay on our exquisite cruise ship as it sails down the Nile; explore ancient temples; and marvel at the stunning artifacts that chronicle a compelling history at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. You’ll enjoy all the exclusivity and luxury of our signature Egypt trip tours on a briefer timetable.

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FAQs About The Library of Alexandria

Who burned the Library of Alexandria?

The burning Library of Alexandria is a significant historical event shrouded in controversy and mystery. While there are various accounts and theories about who exactly was responsible for the destruction of the great Library of Alexandria, one of the most well-known incidents occurred during Julius Caesar's campaign in Egypt in 48 BC.

Julius Caesar's arrival in Alexandria marked a tumultuous period for the city and its famed library. During the conflict between Caesar and his rival Pompey, parts of Alexandria were set ablaze, leading to widespread destruction, including the burning of the Library. It is believed that the library suffered significant damage during this chaotic time, resulting in the loss of countless priceless scrolls, manuscripts, and knowledge from ancient civilizations.

The Library of Alexandria, known for its vast collection of texts and its role as a center of learning and intellectual exchange, faced irreparable harm as a result of the fires that raged through the city. Scholars and historians mourned the loss of what could have been a treasure trove of ancient wisdom, scientific discoveries, and cultural heritage.

Despite the devastation caused by the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the legacy of this iconic institution lives on. Today, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the modern successor to the ancient library, stands as a symbol of cultural revitalization and intellectual curiosity. Through its vast collection of books, exhibitions, and events, the new library continues to honor the spirit of learning and discovery that once defined the great Library of Alexandria. Arabic calligraphy and various cultural artifacts also pay tribute to the diverse heritage that has shaped Alexandria's identity over the centuries.

What was lost in the Library of Alexandria?

The loss of the Library of Alexandria dealt a devastating blow to the collective knowledge of ancient civilizations. As a repository of wisdom and scholarship, the great library housed a vast collection of texts and scrolls, covering a wide range of subjects such as philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, history, and literature. The destruction of the library resulted in the disappearance of numerous invaluable works that could have provided insights into the intellectual achievements of the past.

Estimates regarding how big was the Library of Alexandria vary, with some historical accounts suggesting that it may have contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls and books. The exact number remains a point of speculation, but what is certain is that the loss of this magnificent collection represented a significant cultural and intellectual setback for humanity.

Among the works thought to have been lost in the burning of the Library of Alexandria are treatises by renowned scholars like Archimedes, Euclid, and Hippocrates. Important philosophical works by the likes of Plato and Aristotle, as well as historical accounts from various civilizations, may have also perished in the flames. The destruction of these texts not only erased valuable knowledge but also hindered future generations' ability to study and build upon the insights of the past.

In addition to specific texts and treatises, the collection of the great Library of Alexandria is likely to have contained unique cultural artifacts, manuscripts in multiple languages, and examples of intricate Arabic calligraphy that reflected the diverse cultural exchanges that took place in ancient Alexandria. The loss of these materials represented a loss of cultural heritage and a missed opportunity to further understand and appreciate the interconnectedness of different civilizations that once thrived in this cosmopolitan hub.

While the exact contents of the Library of Alexandria and details of what was lost in the library of Alexandria remain a mystery, the impact of its destruction reverberates through history as a stark reminder of the fragility of knowledge and the importance of safeguarding intellectual treasures for future generations. The spirit of the great library lives on in the ongoing quest for learning, discovery, and preservation of cultural heritage.

How big was the Library of Alexandria?

In terms of its physical structure and size, the Library of Alexandria was a grand complex that encompassed various buildings, halls, and reading rooms. The main library building itself was an architectural marvel, featuring towering shelves filled with scrolls, manuscripts, and texts from different regions and civilizations. Scholars and visitors from far and wide must have marveled at the magnitude and sophistication of the library's design.

Estimates regarding the precise size of the Library of Alexandria vary, with some historical sources suggesting that it may have housed anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of scrolls. The library's collection was curated over time through acquisitions, gifts, and exchanges with other institutions, making it a repository of knowledge that represented the collective wisdom of the ancient world.

Apart from the main library structure, the Library of Alexandria complex also included lecture halls, gardens, laboratories, and meeting spaces where scholars, researchers, and intellectuals could engage in discussions, debates, and collaborative projects. The great library served as a hub of learning and cultural exchange, attracting luminaries from various disciplines who sought to expand their understanding of the world.

Despite its impressive size and scope, the Library of Alexandria met a tragic end due to fires, wars, and political unrest over the centuries. The burning of the great library marked a significant loss for humanity, as countless valuable texts and manuscripts were destroyed, depriving future generations of invaluable insights and knowledge from the ancient world. The legacy of the Library of Alexandria lives on in its enduring impact on intellectual pursuits and the ongoing quest for discovery and enlightenment.

What is the Library of Alexandria like today?

Today, the New Library of Alexandria, known as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, stands as a beacon of knowledge and cultural heritage in the city of Alexandria. Rebuilt in the 20th and 21st centuries, the New Library of Alexandria is a stunning architectural masterpiece. Located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, it pays homage to the ancient Library of Alexandria while embracing modernity and innovation.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina's distinctive appearance is a sight to behold, leek and contemporary, the building's form reflects a nod to its ancient past, with a circular shape reminiscent of a sundial. The circular shape represents the continuity of human civilization, the quest for knowledge, and the interconnectedness of cultures and ideas that the library embodies.

The project for the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina was brought to life by an esteemed Norwegian architectural firm, Snøhetta, known for its innovative and sustainable designs. The library's architecture is a blend of tradition and modernity, with a striking exterior that captivates visitors and celebrates Alexandria's rich cultural history.

Beyond its architectural significance, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a hub of intellectual activity and cultural exchange. The library houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, digital resources, and archival materials, making it a valuable resource for researchers, scholars, and visitors interested in a wide range of topics. In addition to its vast collection, the Library of Alexandria features exhibition spaces, research centers, conference facilities, and multimedia labs, offering a dynamic environment for learning, exploration, and collaboration.

The Library of Alexandria today, in the form of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of knowledge and intellectual inspiration. By blending historical symbolism with contemporary design and cutting-edge resources, the library continues to uphold Alexandria's tradition as a center of learning and cultural exchange, welcoming visitors from around the world to engage with the past, present, and future of human achievement. 

Truly the Modern Library of Alexandria is one of the most beautiful libraries around the world that every bookworm or scholar should visit!

What is there to do there?

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the modern incarnation of the Library of Alexandria, offers a diverse array of attractions and activities for visitors to explore and engage with. Within the library complex, there are several museums, exhibitions, and cultural attractions that showcase the richness of Alexandria's heritage and the breadth of human knowledge.

One of the standout museums within the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is the Antiquities Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of artifacts spanning Egypt's rich history. Visitors can marvel at ancient artifacts, statues, and relics that offer insights into the civilization of the Pharaohs and the cultural legacy of Egypt.

Another noteworthy museum located within the library is the Manuscript Museum, which displays a remarkable collection of ancient manuscripts and rare texts from different periods and regions. This museum provides a glimpse into the history of writing, bookmaking, and intellectual pursuits, highlighting the value of preserving and studying historical documents.

In addition to the permanent museum exhibits, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that cover a wide range of topics, from contemporary art to historical discoveries. These temporary displays offer visitors the opportunity to explore new and dynamic perspectives on art, culture, and science, creating a vibrant and ever-evolving cultural landscape within the library.

Apart from the museums, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina features other attractions such as art galleries, a planetarium, academic research centers, conference facilities, and a vibrant cultural program that includes lectures, workshops, and performances. Visitors can participate in guided tours, attend special events, or simply explore the library's extensive collection of books and digital resources to deepen their understanding of various subjects.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina offers a wealth of experiences for visitors of all backgrounds and interests. Whether delving into the ancient past at the Antiquities Museum, discovering rare manuscripts at the Manuscript Museum, or engaging with contemporary art and culture through temporary exhibitions, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this iconic cultural institution. A visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina promises a unique and enriching journey through history, knowledge, and creativity, making it a destination not to be missed for those seeking a multifaceted cultural experience.

How do I get tickets to see the library?

We recommend that visitors interested in accessing the New Library of Alexandria book their trip with Inside Egypt to ensure a hassle-free experience. By booking with Inside Egypt, visitors can avoid the need to wait in line at the ticket office as the tickets will be purchased in advance for them.

Booking with Inside Egypt not only saves time and effort but also guarantees entry to the library, as there is a limited number of people allowed inside each day. This service allows visitors to enjoy their trip to the library without worrying about ticket availability or queues, enhancing their overall experience, and removing any stress.

With Inside Egypt handling the ticket purchase process, visitors can focus on exploring and appreciating the rich history and culture that the Modern Library of Alexandria has to offer.

How long does the visit last?

Visiting the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with Inside Egypt typically takes about one and a half hours. During this time, visitors can expect a well-rounded experience that covers the various sections of the library.

Inside Egypt's tour includes guided visits to different areas of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, such as exhibitions, museums, and other significant sections. The New Library of Alexandria provides its own guides who speak fluent English and are available at specific times to accompany visitors throughout the facility.

Moreover, each museum or exhibition within the library has its dedicated guides who offer detailed explanations about the unique collections and highlight the most significant exhibits. This allows visitors to gain a deeper appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

By booking a tour with Inside Egypt, visitors can enjoy a comprehensive and informative visit to the library, guided by knowledgeable experts who ensure a memorable experience during your visit.

What should I wear when I visit?

When preparing for your visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, it is essential to follow the conservative dress code of the country and respect the customs in place. As the library is a public space and cultural institution, wearing modest clothing that is loose-fitting and covers the body appropriately is highly recommended.

For women, suitable attire may include long trousers or maxi skirts paired with opaque blouses or shirts that cover the shoulders and do not have plunging necklines. This type of clothing helps maintain modesty and aligns with the local cultural expectations.

Men visiting the library should consider wearing long trousers and shirts that provide adequate coverage and are respectful in style.

By dressing in loose-fitting and modest attire that meets the guidelines of modesty and respect for the customs of Egypt, visitors can ensure a harmonious and culturally sensitive experience while exploring the wonders of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

What other monuments are nearby?

While visiting Egypt, there are several remarkable monuments and sites near the Bibliotheca Alexandrina that are definitely worth exploring. Some of these include:

  • The Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx: A must-see when in Egypt, these iconic structures are steeped in history and mystery.
  • Pyramid of Djoser: Located in Saqqara, the step pyramid is one of the oldest stone structures in the world and an outstanding example of ancient Egyptian architecture.
  • Islamic Cairo: Explore the historic Islamic quarter of Cairo, home to stunning mosques, the Khan el-Khalili market, and architecture that showcase the city's rich heritage.
  • Museums in Cairo: Discover the treasures housed in museums like the Egyptian Museum, home to an extensive collection of ancient artifacts.
  • Temple of Karnak and Luxor Temple: Immerse yourself in the grandeur of ancient Egyptian temples and marvel at their intricate carvings and colossal statues.
  • Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings: Explore the elaborate burial grounds of pharaohs in Luxor, where intricate tombs offer a glimpse into ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices.
  • Temples in Abu Simbel: Visit the stunning temples of Abu Simbel, with their colossal statues of Ramses II, these are ancient Egyptian grandeur and architectural prowess at their finest.

No trip to Egypt is complete without embarking on a Nile cruise either. A cruise along the Nile River, especially a longer one allows you to witness Egypt's iconic sites from a unique perspective, offering breathtaking views of ancient temples, lush landscapes, and local life along the riverbanks. It provides an alternative way to explore Egypt's historical wonders in a luxurious and comfortable fashion, making it a memorable journey through the heart of ancient Egypt.

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