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As late as the 15th century, the city prospered as a transit point in the trade conducted between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean basin.Beginning in the 16th century, however, the city suffered a period of protracted decline owing to epidemic disease and administrative neglect; by the end of the 18th century, traces of Alexandria’s former splendour had largely vanished.Close to this intersection was the Mouseion (museum), an academy of arts and sciences, which included the great Library of Alexandria.

The prevailing north wind, blowing across the Mediterranean, gives Alexandria a markedly different climate from that of the desert hinterland.

The summers are relatively temperate, although humidity can build up in July and in August, the hottest month, when the average temperature reaches 87 °F (31 °C).

Foreign dominance was reinforced by the overlay of British colonialism beginning in 1882 and by the formation of a foreign-dominated municipality in 1890.

The arts flourished during this century-long interlude, and the city still boasts fine Neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture dating from this period.

By the time French troops invaded Egypt in 1798, Alexandria had been reduced to a town of some 10,000 inhabitants, significant mainly for its role in Ottoman maritime networks.

Flourishing in the 19th century as a major centre of the booming cotton industry, the modern city had come to bear little in common with the ancient metropolis.The pride of ancient Alexandria was the great lighthouse, the Pharos of Alexandria, which stood on the eastern tip of the island of Pharos.One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the lighthouse is reputed to have been more than 350 feet (110 metres) high and was still standing in the 12th century.The literary side of the city’s flowering is reflected in the works of the Alexandria-born Greek writer Constantine Cavafy, who drew on Alexandria’s fabled past in his poetry.Likewise, the decadent cosmopolitanism of the foreign community in Alexandria was depicted by the English writer Lawrence Durrell in his famous series of novels, (1967); set in postcolonial Alexandria, Mahfouz’s novella offers a view of the city as an integral part of Egyptian history and society.The city lies on the Mediterranean Sea at the western edge of the Nile River delta, about 114 miles (183 km) northwest of Cairo in Lower Egypt. Alexandria played an important role in preserving and transmitting Hellenic culture to the wider Mediterranean world and was a crucible of scholarship, piety, and ecclesiastical politics in early Christian history.

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