Underground Library of Alexandria - History and Facts | History Hit

Underground Library of Alexandria

Alexandria, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt

The underground library of Alexandria once formed part of the city’s famous Great Library and can be found under the ruins of the Serapeum.

Antara Bate

23 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Underground Library of Alexandria

The underground library of Alexandria, found underneath the ruins of the Serapeum, consists of a series of subterranean tunnels and storerooms where it is believed part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was stored.

Underground Library of Alexandria history

The founding of the Great library and the Mouseion is unquestionably connected with the name of Demetrius of Phaleron, a member of the Peripatetic school and a former Athenian politician. The King’s advisor Ptolemy soon took advantage of Demetrius’s wide and versatile knowledge and, about 295 BC, charged him with the task of founding the library and the Mouseion.

The Great Library itself was the most famous library of the ancient world. The date of its destruction is disputed but may have been during Julius Caesar‘s time in the city.

However, the underground library of Alexandria – or at least the construction itself – remained in use until the destruction of the Serapeum in 391AD and may have been used for religious purposes by worshippers of Serapis.

Underground Library of Alexandria today

Today visitors can explore these underground chambers and see the niches in the walls where the documents were stored.

This site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions in Egypt.

Getting to the Underground Library of Alexandria

The underground library is underneath the ruins of the Serapeum in the heart of Alexandria. The Serapeum is just off Karmooz street along from the Kanal Al Mahmoudeya Al Bahri road through the city, joining the highway 75. The Serapeum is a 17 minute drive from the international airport, and a half hour walk to Alexandria’s train station.

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