With the purpose of highlighting the sunken treasures off the coast of Alexandria, an event themed “Cleopatra’s Dream” was held in the city on Saturday 30 September, featuring the Egyptian-Greek queen in her capital city.
A parade started off from Qaitbay Citadel on the western tip of Alexandria’s ancient Eastern Harbour, passing through the waterfront boulevard of al-Corniche and heading to the newly-opened diving center Alexandria Dive. The star of the parade was Queen Cleopatra herself, played by a young woman in golden royal robes and the crown of ancient Egypt, and seated on a golden throne. She was accompanied by an entourage of dozens of officers and ladies-in-waiting dressed in ancient Egyptian outfits.
After arriving at the diving center, Cleopatra was taken on a boat trip that stopped at the Yacht Club on the eastern tip of the ancient harbour, where she met Alexandria Governor Muhammad Sultan and handed him the keys of Alexandria as a symbol of historical continuity. In the background, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra gave a live performance of Aida Opera music.
The celebration shed light on Cleopatra’s sunken city and other underwater ancient Egyptian and Greek antiquities which are now accessible to visitors and tourists through diving trips from Alexandria Dive. Alexandria officials hope the dive centre would make the Mediterranean city a top diving destination in Egypt and around the world.
Held in coordination with the Egyptian Tourism Ministry, the event was attended by Ashraf Sabry, head of Alexandria Dive, French underwater archeologist Franck Goddio whose team discovered the sunken city in the 1990s, Volkhard Windfuhr, head of Cairo Foreign Press Association, among others.
“Alexandria boasts under its waters the sunken city, as well as shipwrecks dating back to the fourth and second centuries BC, besides other shipwrecks dating back to the first and second world wars,” Sabry said.
Egyptian renowned filmmaker Khaled Youssef directed the carnival, and some 50 young men and women participated in the simulated Pharaonic parade.
Alexandria was built by Alexander the Great around 330BC, and Cleopatra was the last of the Ptolemaic Dynasty which ruled Egypt after his death. She was famous for her love story with the Roman Mark Antony; their defeat by Octavian in 31BC put an end to the Greek rule of Egypt and brought Egypt under the Roman Empire.
Boasting thousands of artefacts, the sunken city of Cleopatra, along with the city of Heracleion, were discovered beneath the eastern harbor area and Abu-Qir Bay in the 1990s.
In 1996, the Egyptian government proposed establishing an underwater museum to display the treasures of the two cities, an idea that is supported by the UNESCO but has yet to be carried out.
1 October 2017