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Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt

In an attempt to revive one of the most important symbols of the ancient Alexandria a library was created in the contemporary Egypt. The most stunning characteristic of this library is not only its collection of books, but also its unique and symbolic architecture. The creation of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Maktabat al-Iskandarīyah), also known as the New Library of Alexandria, lasted for about 25 years. The idea to built a new library on the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria destroyed in the end of 4th century, was arised by a group of professors from the University of Alexandria in the mid of 1970s. Due to their efforts, the project received funding from the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirate, from UNESCO and some other governments and organizations. Foreign donations were around 100 million U.S. dollars.

In 1988 the first stone of the building was laid. The construction was oversighted by the world-known Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, whose project won the architectural competition organized by UNESCO. Construction of the library was completed in 2001, and in 2002 the opening ceremony took place.

Library, which is located in a small bay - on the shore of Mediterranean Sea, has a shape, similar to the solar disk. The round building is elevated at the south, and in the north - leans to the sea. Such a form was chosen in honor of the ancient Egyptian god of sun Ra. The main reading room of the library has glassed roof in the form of a sundial, thanks to it during the daytime the hall is naturally illuminated. This reading room, which is one of the largest in the world, has 70,000 square meters floor area. External walls of the library are covered by Aswan grey granite. On the walls there are carved characters from 120 different human scripts. Near the entrance stands a statue of Ptolemy II, which was found in the sea.

The library is trilingual - it has book collections in Arabic, English and French. Bibliotheca Alexandrina is able to host about 8 million books. It has special reading rooms for blind, children and adolescents. Here you can find a museum of the history of the science, a planetarium, a laboratory for the restoration of manuscripts, exhibitions halls, conference rooms, and so on.

Today Bibliotheca Alexandrina with its expressive architecture demonstrates the greatness of human mind and reminds the modern man about one of the most important ancient science centers, which was once a haven for Euclid and Archimedes.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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