Bibliotheca Alexandria the Alexandria library which presented knowledge for over 600 years until it was burn in the third century, it has a religious purpose for once it was mainly designed as a temple held many rare manuscripts, the new library of Alexandria renovation was in 2002 coasted about 200 million $, designed by a Norwegian architect, this article will discuss the ancient bibliotheca and the new version of the library as they both share the same heritage and knowledge.
The history of Alexandria library
Scientists argued about the real founder of the bibliotheca ,some said it was designed in the reign of Ptolemy the first and others assumed that the founding was by Ptolemy the second ,even that some archaeologists said that it was planned for the library in Alexander the great era 23 centuries ago, nothing is confirmed but all we know is the great library also known as “the royal library” the first and largest public library the ancient world ever witnessed .
The First public library
the idea of library was known since the early antiquity but it was only for the royals and priests , the library of Alexandria may not be the first library in history but it was the first public one for common people where the pharaonic and Greek cultures engaged together, the west knowledge combined with the east science producing the Hellenistic civilization .the guides of the library imposed the working teachers and scholars to leave a copy of their writings and publications in order to gain the library its research center and to be a reference to anyone seeking awareness and education. The library flourished back then even more by housing about 700,000 scrolls of philosophy and poetry prominents such as Humorous and Aristotle collection, it became an academy for those who desire nothing except for knowledge and free themselves from all political affiliations and racism.
The burn of Alexandria library
Many stories were told as many mythologies were assumed about the destruction of the ancient library, some said that Julius Ceaser burned 101 ships on the Mediterranean coast during the war with Ptolemy the third ,the younger brother of Cleopatra, this conquest led to huge fire burned the bibliotheca in 48 B.C. other scientists accuse Amr bin Al-aas making him responsible for the library fire during the Islamic conquest, but there's no evidence of such claims, Nothing is certain though .
Collection of Alexandria new library
The idea of resurrect the destroyed ancient library was proposed by Alexandria university in 1974 which faced positive and supporting responds from the international community, in 1988 the UNISCO sponsored for architectural competition (best design for Alexandria new library) which was won by the Norwegian firm Snøhetta. the actual construction began in 1994 and completed in 2002 with 200$ million budget, today, the library receives about 800,00 visitors annually with a main target to be an academy of dialogue and rationality just like the ancient bibliotheca .the interior design of the library is modern and striking with 160 meter diameter glass paneled roof, the outer wall built of Aswan gray granite with 120 different characters from rare scripts carved into these walls. In addition of planetarium (large dome)and The great main reading hall which covers about 700,000 m² with an accommodation of 2000 readers in one time, the library also contain 200 rooms for scholars and researches ,moreover, the books shelved in the reading hall are donated from all over the world with different languages and subjects.
Exhibition gallery and museum of Alexandria library
the gallery located at the heart of the library and covers the space of 344m2, it comprises around 120 manuscripts and rare scrolls displayed in cases ,12 display cases were donated by Italy according to the cooperation agreement between the two countries ,20 of them are Egyptian made cases . the exhibition gallery also displays two pieces of kiswa (holly Ka'aba cover suite).the antiquities museum displays almost 1,100 artifacts and documents date back to the Pharaonic era up to the Islamic civilization, including the Greek-Roman and early Coptic periods. The library has a manuscripts restoration laboratory besides two more exhibitions, one for original engravings and lithographs ,the other one is for literary and Egyptian cinematic works.
Finally if you want to visit the library you can book a tour from Egypt budget tours category or Alexandria day tours if you already in Egypt.