Posts Tagged ‘Heracleon’

cleopatraAlexandria offers one of the most interesting diving experiences in the world, with more sites being discovered each year. This part of the Mediterranean boasts no reefs or colorful tropical fish, but rather a wealth of archeological treasures such as sunken cities, palaces and numerous wrecks.  Experts estimate that some 7000 monuments belonging to the Pharaonic and Roman dynasties are preserved under Alexandria’s waves.

The diving around Alexandria can be divided into some logical groupings based on features and historical period.  Some of the more interesting diving includes:

Underwater city of Cleopatra and her Palace – The site is located just inside the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria. The city dates back to 300 BC, and was built by Alexander the Great.  The city collapsed and fell into the sea after several earthquakes. Divers can see Cleopatra’s royal districts, the statue of Mark Anthony, Cleopatra’s sun boat and the wreckage of a 2nd World War plane that exists inside the ruins. Various monuments, carvings and building ruins can be seen throughout the site.

Quaitbay Fort – There are three wrecks to dive in the waters below present-day Quaitbay Fort. Two wrecks were ships used to carry goods to Alexandria during Cleopatra’s era. The third wreck is the remains of a Roman shipwreck also used to carry goods to Alexandria. Though quite old, the ships’ structures and typical nautical characteristics can still be distinguished.

Underwater city of Heracleon – Located at a distance of 4 km from the coast of Abou Kir bay, at depth of 8m, lies the ruined buildings of the city of Heracleon, complete with a nearby pharaonic style temple.  Found in the temple were 3 colossi carved on red granite for Ptolemy & his queen.   Other relics, such as stone monuments, utensils, bronze figures, gold coins and pottery have been recovered at the site, their origin identified as dating from sometime between the 4th. and 1st. centuries BC.  This site continues to produce archeological treasures and demonstrates advanced construction techniques.

Napoleon’s Wrecks – In the late 1700’s, Napoleon Bonaparte began his French invasion of Egypt by landing his fleet in Alexandria.  His flagship, the Orient, exploded and sank in the Battle of the Nile.  At 2700 tons and carrying 120 cannons, this ship makes for a fascinating and well preserved wreck dive. Two other nearby wrecks, the Serieuse and the Artemise were also frigates belonging to Napoleon’s fleet. Artifacts recovered from the wrecks include anchors, cannons, portable firearms, ammunition, navigation instruments, and gold, silver and copper coins.

WWII Wrecks – There are two WWII wrecks near Alexandria.  The HMS Calcutta was a C-class British light cruiser, built by Vickers during 1917, and launched during 1918. Despite to her anti-aircraft weapons, the HMS Calcutta was damaged and sunk by a German Junkers Ju 88 bomber in the waters north-west of Alexandria.  Due to the location, the visibility around this wreck is consistently better than in Alexandria harbor, and the remaining structure is overflowing with sea life.  The second wreck, the HMS Galatea was an Arethusa-class British light cruiser, built in Greenock by Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. during 1933, and launched during 1934.  She was intercepted and torpedoed by the German submarine U-557, the explosion scattering the ship’s ruin across the sea floor.  Again, the currents surrounding the wreck deliver superior diving visibility.

Siwa Oasis – This isn’t ocean diving, but the opportunity is still fantastic.  Siwa is located on the edge of the Great Sand Sea approximately 3-hours into the desert by car from Alexandria.  During the Roman Occupation in the early 300 B.C.’s, the Romans modified many of the natural springs that occur here and turned them into wells. The oasis itself is too shallow to dive in, but the surrounding 190 springs and wells offer plenty of unique diving action. The water is crystal clear with fairly constant temps. Typical depths are between 6 and 8 meters with some wells having unique fish varieties which are not native to Egypt. Perhaps the most unique feature, however, is that many contain remains of Roman era construction.

There are some drawbacks to the unique diving in Alexandria.  Dive conditions can be difficult at some sites, with medium to low visibility from silt and pollution.  Also, divers have a limited selection of reputable dive companies to use, as the lack of a large volume of dive tourists makes it difficult to sustain a dive operation.  Finally, government permission to dive some of these sights, like Heracleon, may change without warning as authorities take into account local archeological, political and drug smuggling activities.  But, it seems the challenges may be worth the rewards as few other places in the world allow a diver to combine their sport with such a rich exploration of history.

cleopatraAlexandria offers one of the most interesting diving experiences in the world, with more sites being discovered each year. This part of the Mediterranean boasts no reefs or colorful tropical fish, but rather a wealth of archeological treasures such as sunken cities, palaces and numerous wrecks.  Experts estimate that some 7000 monuments belonging to the Pharaonic and Roman dynasties are preserved under Alexandria’s waves.

The diving around Alexandria can be divided into some logical groupings based on features and historical period.  Some of the more interesting diving includes:

Underwater city of Cleopatra and her Palace – The site is located just inside the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria. The city dates back to 300 BC, and was built by Alexander the Great.  The city collapsed and fell into the sea after several earthquakes. Divers can see Cleopatra’s royal districts, the statue of Mark Anthony, Cleopatra’s sun boat and the wreckage of a 2nd World War plane that exists inside the ruins. Various monuments, carvings and building ruins can be seen throughout the site.

Quaitbay Fort – There are three wrecks to dive in the waters below present-day Quaitbay Fort. Two wrecks were ships used to carry goods to Alexandria during Cleopatra’s era. The third wreck is the remains of a Roman shipwreck also used to carry goods to Alexandria. Though quite old, the ships’ structures and typical nautical characteristics can still be distinguished.

Underwater city of Heracleon – Located at a distance of 4 km from the coast of Abou Kir bay, at depth of 8m, lies the ruined buildings of the city of Heracleon, complete with a nearby pharaonic style temple.  Found in the temple were 3 colossi carved on red granite for Ptolemy & his queen.   Other relics, such as stone monuments, utensils, bronze figures, gold coins and pottery have been recovered at the site, their origin identified as dating from sometime between the 4th. and 1st. centuries BC.  This site continues to produce archeological treasures and demonstrates advanced construction techniques.

Napoleon’s Wrecks – In the late 1700’s, Napoleon Bonaparte began his French invasion of Egypt by landing his fleet in Alexandria.  His flagship, the Orient, exploded and sank in the Battle of the Nile.  At 2700 tons and carrying 120 cannons, this ship makes for a fascinating and well preserved wreck dive. Two other nearby wrecks, the Serieuse and the Artemise were also frigates belonging to Napoleon’s fleet. Artifacts recovered from the wrecks include anchors, cannons, portable firearms, ammunition, navigation instruments, and gold, silver and copper coins.

WWII Wrecks – There are two WWII wrecks near Alexandria.  The HMS Calcutta was a C-class British light cruiser, built by Vickers during 1917, and launched during 1918. Despite to her anti-aircraft weapons, the HMS Calcutta was damaged and sunk by a German Junkers Ju 88 bomber in the waters north-west of Alexandria.  Due to the location, the visibility around this wreck is consistently better than in Alexandria harbor, and the remaining structure is overflowing with sea life.  The second wreck, the HMS Galatea was an Arethusa-class British light cruiser, built in Greenock by Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. during 1933, and launched during 1934.  She was intercepted and torpedoed by the German submarine U-557, the explosion scattering the ship’s ruin across the sea floor.  Again, the currents surrounding the wreck deliver superior diving visibility.

Siwa Oasis – This isn’t ocean diving, but the opportunity is still fantastic.  Siwa is located on the edge of the Great Sand Sea approximately 3-hours into the desert by car from Alexandria.  During the Roman Occupation in the early 300 B.C.’s, the Romans modified many of the natural springs that occur here and turned them into wells. The oasis itself is too shallow to dive in, but the surrounding 190 springs and wells offer plenty of unique diving action. The water is crystal clear with fairly constant temps. Typical depths are between 6 and 8 meters with some wells having unique fish varieties which are not native to Egypt. Perhaps the most unique feature, however, is that many contain remains of Roman era construction.

There are some drawbacks to the unique diving in Alexandria.  Dive conditions can be difficult at some sites, with medium to low visibility from silt and pollution.  Also, divers have a limited selection of reputable dive companies to use, as the lack of a large volume of dive tourists makes it difficult to sustain a dive operation.  Finally, government permission to dive some of these sights, like Heracleon, may change without warning as authorities take into account local archeological and drug smuggling activities.  But, it seems the challenges may be worth the rewards as few other places in the world allow a diver to combine their sport with such a rich exploration of history.