Amr Ibn Al’as easily took the Fort of Babylon as he invaded Egypt and proceeded in 641 A.D. (21 Hijri) to the city of Alexandria where local Copts welcomed him and offered him support. Copts served as supporting arms for Arabs. Between the end of 20 Hj and the beginning of 21Hj,, Muslims entered Alexandria

The city of Alexandria as seen by the Arabs

Ibn Alhakam, the Egyptian historian, described Alexandria as seen by the Arab invaders as composed of three districts separated by walls: The Egyptian, the Roman and the Jewish districts.

Floods filled huge cisterns with fresh canal water and anyone can still see it around in Alexandria today. Shopping arcades were on arches and awesome columns and pillars across the city.

Ruins of the famous Alexandria lighthouse – one of the seven Wonders of the World – are now as a square foundation near the Fort of Qait Bey in Anfoushi District. Another remarkable architectural monument that is second place after the lighthouse, is the famous Pompey’s Pillar which is a unique cylindrical structure.

Among the most famous landmarks of Alexandria are two churches: the St. Mark Church (Morkoseya) and the Cesarean Church. Both churches were adorned with an obelisk dating from Pharaonic times. The obelisks were later transferred to New York and London respectively . People named them of Obelisk Street to the area where they were placed.


 After the Muslim Conquest

Amr Ibn Al’as have chosen Alexandria to be the capital of Egypt in his era, but the Caliph back then, Omar Ibn Al Khattab,  have refused the idea when he knew that Alexandria was far from the rest of the Arab world with the yearly Nile floods. Over time, many wealthy Romans left Alexandria causing a major economic recession. The remaining Romans endured difficult times, while Alexandrians prospered and led a more comfortable life at the social and personal levels.

Only four years later, during which Alexandria had reached a level of stability, a large Roman fleet raided the city of Alexandria and Romans took over Alexandria. The Romans marched on to  “Fustat” , but Amr Ibn Al’as stopped them on the banks of the Nile. The battle was fiercely on land and on the river and ended up with the defeat of the Romans. Amr Ibn Al’as’s forces killed many Romans . However, when survivors begged Amr Ibn Al’as for his mercy and to spare their lives, he did. Today, at the site where Amr Ibn Al’as spared the life of those Romans, lies the Rahma Mosque (mercy mosque). The mosque tells of the mercy Ibn Al’as had over his defeated enemies.

Alexandria in the Omayad Era

The Caliph of Damascus – Moaweya – had a keen interest in merchant fleet and, under his rule, Alexandria became a blooming harbor for Arabs from the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula which further encouraged Arab culture, Islamic architecture and the increase in the building of mosques.

The Commander of Fostat – Etba Ibn Sefyan – chose Alexandria as second capital of Egypt and ruled from there.

Alexandria in the Abbaside Era

Under the Abbasids, Egypt’s relations with the Caliphate remained virtually unchanged becoming a state under the dominion of Bagdad. Alexandria continued to thrive unaffected by this change.

It wasn’t until 760 A.D. (142 Hijri) that Alexandria took a slightly different status: The Caliphate Heir – Abu Gaafar Elmansur – took interest in Africa and, under the rule of the Commander of Egypt – Mohamed Ibn Elash’ath – Abilkhatab Abdel A’li Elmaafry led an army to battle the Tripoli Khawarej who were renegades from the area of Elabadeya, but he left the city of Fostat to Alexandria. From there, he led military operations in Morocco, turning Alexandria into a meeting point between East and West.