This is the Alexandria city guide – here, our guest writer Rafael Diogo explores the sounds of this famous Egyptian city to give sonic tourists an idea of which sounds to listen out for when visiting Alexandria.
This is part of our ongoing series of city sound guides, highlighting the sounds that characterise some of the most beautiful cities on Earth.
Alexandria city guide
“My trip throughout Egypt started in the ancient city of Alexandria, a coastal city located on the Mediterranean Sea. In general, the city is quite vibrant and has a lot of human activities, so you can hear many different sounds of people talking, shouting and laughing blended with the sounds of traffic, such as cars honking and the hum of engines. However, If you walk by the coast, you can serenely immerse yourself in the sound of waves crashing against the shore and the sound of boats and ships passing by.
“Sound is of major importance to people’s perception of the environment, and some remarked that the overall soundscape of Alexandria has changed for the worse in recent years.”
1. Sunset in the city
The view of the sunset over the Mediterranean sea can be quite picturesque and the colours of the sunset can be quite vivid. It is also worth noting that Alexandria has a long history and many historical landmarks, such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Montazah Palace, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which could make for a great backdrop for viewing the sunset. A strong religious atmosphere is always present, as the resounding voices of the minarets of the mosque can be heard in the distance.
2. Passing time by the seaside
At the seaside, you can just roll solo as the tide splashes your ankles. The sound of waves is proven to relax the mind, as waves come in, crash, and then recede again, like a “trigger telling your brain you’re in the right place”.
Simply being near the ocean and engaging in fishing alongside some of the locals familiar with the waves of the Mediterranean can be so enjoyable and calming you forget you’re traveling. The soothing sound of the waves relaxing your mind and the fisherman’s tales being told by the locals will mesmerise you with their beauty and will make your day full of happy memories.
3. Shopping at the Zanket El Setat night market
The Zanket El Setat night market is a night market in Alexandria, Egypt, where vendors and street food stalls come together to create a lively and bustling atmosphere. It is a popular destination for locals, who come to enjoy the food, shopping, and entertainment.
The variety of distinct sounds is vast, such as vendors calling out to attract customers, people bargaining for goods, the hum of chatter from shoppers, and the sounds of goods being sold, such as the clanking of silverware, the hiss of frying food, and the chatter of ice in drinks. It might also have background music or live music performances, as it is very common to hear street musicians playing traditional Egyptian music.
4. Newspaper printing press
Today, a newspaper pressing print in Alexandria is a rare and unique kind of labor, representing a glimpse into the rich history of printing in Egypt and the city of Alexandria. At a press print, you may hear the sound of the presses running and the sound of paper being fed through the machines.
Depending on the type of press, you might hear the whirring of electric motors or the clanking of gears. There may also be the sound of ink being distributed onto the paper, which can vary depending on the type of press. Additionally, you may hear the sound of people talking or shouting as they work. The sound of the presses running is often a constant hum in the background.
5. Riding the Al-Medina tram
The Al-Medina tram is a tram system in Alexandria, Egypt, and it makes several different sounds as it moves through the city. Some of the sounds you might hear include:
1. The sound of the tram’s wheels clacking on the tracks as it moves along.
2. The sound of the tram’s electric motors and gears as it accelerates and slows down.
3. The sound of the tram’s bells or horns as it approaches intersections or other areas where it needs to warn pedestrians and drivers of its presence.
4. The sound of the tram’s brakes as it stops at stations or intersections.
5. The sound of passengers boarding and exiting the tram, including the sound of doors opening and closing.
The Al-Medina tram is a unique and distinctive form of transportation in Alexandria, and its sounds are a part of the city’s transportation landscape.
6. Drinking coffee downtown
Ahwa downtown coffee house is a coffee shop located in the heart of Alexandria, Egypt. It is a popular destination for coffee lovers, as well as for those who want to experience the lively atmosphere of downtown Alexandria.
Visitors can sit and enjoy their coffee while watching the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets or take a stroll through the nearby market to immerse themselves in the local culture.
The sounds at Ahwa Downtown Coffeehouse create a lively and vibrant atmosphere, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.
7. Call to prayer
The old town of Alexandria is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of this beautiful city and is a great place to experience the traditional way of life in Alexandria. You can just stroll around the market in the streets of the old town, where rabbis, Muslim women in scarves, and pilgrim Christians live together.
You can occasionally hear the sound of people praying or singing and if you are near a mosque, you may hear the sound of the call to prayer being broadcast over loudspeakers.
8. Qaitbay Citadel
The Qaitbay Citadel is a medieval fortress located in Alexandria, Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast. It was built in the 15th century and served as a major military defence for the city, guarding the entrance to the harbour and protecting it from invading forces.
Visitors can explore the various buildings within the citadel, including the mosque, the barracks, and the towers, and learn about the history of the citadel and its role in the defence of Alexandria.
At the Qaitbay Citadel, visitors can expect to hear a mix of natural and man-made sounds, but most likely they will hear the sound of footsteps and voices of visitors exploring the citadel, as well as the sounds of street vendors and vendors within the citadel.
9. The port of Alexandria
The port is situated on the eastern coast of Egypt, along the Mediterranean Sea, and is known for its long history of maritime trade and commerce. Throughout the centuries, the port has served as a gateway for goods and people traveling between Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The port is a busy and lively place, and you can expect to hear a constant din of activity and movement but at this specific time, it was quiet and we could just hear the sound of waves lapping against the sides of ships and the dock.