Medieval Alexandria-Life in a Port City

Miriam Frenkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The article presents an overview description of medieval Alexandria, based on the integration of archaeological finds, Muslim historiography, and medieval travelogues, with Geniza documents. It begins with a short outline of Alexandria's geographical location, then provides a depiction of its environs and its infrastructure, especially emphasising the water system and the port. The description then moves from the city's outer circle to its inner areas and discusses the various quarters and neighbourhoods, the commercial centres, and the industrial zones, finally focusing on the buildings, both public and private. It concludes with a short discussion of the way in which Alexandria was viewed by local Muslims and by European visitors. On the basis of this overall description, it is suggested that we should perceive medieval Alexandria in terms of a gateway city that underwent significant reorientation but succeeded in retaining its special status as such.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5-35
Number of pages31
JournalAl-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2014


  • Alexandria
  • Ayyū bid sultanate-trade
  • Cairo
  • Egypt-Genizah documents
  • Egypt-towns
  • El Iskanderîya,Egypt
  • El Qâhira
  • Fātimid caliphate-trade
  • Local history/Eastern Mediterranean
  • Ports-in Egypt
  • Towns-in Egypt


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