El Alamein (العلمين) is city on the north coast of Egypt, famous as the site of major battles between British and German forces during the Second World War (see World War II in Africa).
This article also includes the adjacent areas of New Alamein, Marina el Alamein and Leukaspis. Marina-el-Alamein is a sea resort from the 1980s just north of El Alamein, and next to it is the archeological site Leukaspis (also known as Antiphrae).
Winston Churchill once described El Alamein as having the best climate in the world and during the late 2010s the Egyptian government decided to make good use of El Alamein's touristic potential with the mega-project New Alamein. Resorts, skyscrapers and new residential areas are being built along the coast as part of that city since 2018.
El-Alamein is famous for the two Second World War battles fought here in 1942. The first battle took place on 27 July, when the German-Italian Panzerarmee Afrika commanded by Erwin Rommel coming from Tobruk, Libya, managed to break through the lines of the British Commonwealth troops and advance to Height 26 west of El-Alamein.
A few months later they tried to advance further, leading to the second battle that was fought between 23 October and 4 November. There the Axis tank army was beaten by the British 8th army commanded by Bernard Montgomery. In total, around 80,000 soldiers were wounded or killed in the two battles.
From 1943 to 1947, German and Italian POWs, under the command of the British, collected the fallen from the battlefields and buried them in cemeteries in town. The temporary graves for the Axis soldiers were on Height 33. In 1955, works commenced on the German and Italian memorials, and they were finished in 1959. Today El Alamein is a city of about 10,000 inhabitants, known for its oil fields and for war tourism.
Marina el AlameinEdit
Marina el-Alamein, (مارينا العلمين, Mārīnā al-ʿAlamain), also known as Porto Marina or just Marina, is a yacht port just northeast of El Alamein. It's mostly a holiday resort for the domestic elite, designed by the Egyptian Amer group and built in the mid-1980s by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. The are hotels, restaurants, apartment buildings and the marina making up this districts are placed around a lagoon, 4-6 m deep, connected to the Mediterranean.
Just east of the Marina, and 5 km northeast of El Alamein is Leukaspis (Greek:Λεύκασπις), also known as Antiphrai (Greek: Ἀντίφραι). Leukaspis was a port city during Classical antiquity, and today it is an archaeological site with Greek and Roman ruins. It's one of the best preserved sites right on the Mediterranean coast.
It's disputed which name was used for the port city back in the day, and therefore it's sometimes referred to as the archaeological site at Marina el-Alamein. Greek geographer Strapo, working before and after Christ, described places along the coast and both the descriptions of Leukaspis and Antiphrai would fit the current site.
It was rediscovered the 1920s, when excavations brought catacombs and old cisterns to light. It was almost destroyed in 1986 during the construction of the Marina resort, but since then Leukaspis has been taken care of as an archaeological site, being excavated and conserved by the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological Mission led by Wiktor Andrzej Daszewski.
New Alamein City (العلمين الجديدة al-ʿAlamain al-Ǧadīda) is a new city in construction since 2018, when President Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi laid the first stone. This megaproject is about developing a center for tourism, education and administration. Most of the city is between the Commonwealth and German military cemeteries, and the northern part if immediately west of Marina el-Alamein.
There are high apartment buildings along the coast, behind them a lagoon with canals. There are plans for a presidential palace, a building for ministries, three universities, 15 skyscrapers, and 30,000 hotel rooms, about a third of which have been built. Some buildings that are already finished include the El Masa mosque, a huge mall, restaurants, and three movie theaters.
El Alamein has an airport but as of late 2022 there are no scheduled flights. The closes airport is the El Alamein International Airport serving Alexandria (85 km from El Alamein) mainly with flights from the Middle East. In addition you can fly in via Cairo which has much better connectivity.
There are several daily air-conditioned trains from Alexandria and Marsa Matruh as well as an overnight train from Cairo.
- 1 El Alamein railway station.
There are plans for a 540 km long high speed railway connecting New Alamein with the New Administrative Capital (Egypt).
You can get in by bus from Alexandria and the West Delta as well as from Marsa Matruh - there are hourly buses from each.
El Alamein is on the Alexandria-Marsa Matruh motorway. Alternatively you can travel from Cairo via eḍ-Ḍabʿa and along the Wadi El-Natrun Road.
Getting in from Alexandria and Marsa Matruh by taxi is possible but relatively expensive. However, this can be a flexible way to visit all the memorials in one sitting.
2 Mārīnā el-ʿAlamein yacht harbour has 500 berths for yachts with a maximum length of 40 m and a maximum depth of 7 m.
Taxi is the best way to get to the memorials and cemeteries from central El Alamein.
Leukaspis can only be explored on foot and is not suitable for mobility impaired people.
Second World War sitesEdit
The Commonwealth War Cemetery at El Alamein is open during daylight hours, and staffed Saturday to Thursday 0730 to 1430. There are also German and Italian cemeteries, and a very substantial war museum.
The memorials are open from 8:00 to 17:00 in the summer. In the winter and during Ramadan the opening times are shortened to 9:00-16:00. In this guide, they are listed from east to west. The Allied memorials are just south of the Alexandria-Matruh highway, north of El Alamein and south of the Marina.
- 1 Greek Memorial. Coming from Alexandria, the Greek memorial is the first you will encounter. It's in the form of a small classical temple, bordered by walls on three sides. These walls have plates with inscribed names of fallen soldiers.
- 2 South African Memorial. About 850 m from the Greek memorial, at the northeastern corner of the park making up the Commonwealth Memorial complex. The memorial has the inscription: South Africans outspanned and fought here during their trek from Italian Somaliland to Germany 1939–1945. Union Defence Forces. Army Air-Force Navy.
- 3 Commonwealth War Cemetery and Alamein Memorial. A big stone cross on a stone pedestal watches over the cemetery which is 20 hectares in size. It's the final resting place for 7,367 soldiers, 821 of which are unknown and whose names aren't written on the tombstones. Most of the fallen are British, in addition there are Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Malaysians, Melanesians, Canadians, Greek, French, Poles, South Africans are buried here. The memorial, designed by Sir Hubert Worthington, has inscriptions of about 12,000 other soldiers whose remains could not be found.
- 4 ANZAC Memorial. In the northern corner of the cemetery is a memorial to the Australian and New Zealander soldiers.
- 5 El Alamein Military museum (about 300 m west of the entrance to the Commonwealth cemetery), ☏ +20 46 410 0021. daily 9-16. The museum, established in 1956, describes the war in North Africa and the military technology of both sides. Photography is allowed with a phone, not with other kinds of equipment. Closes for Friday prayer for one hour, during that time you may only stay in the outdoor areas. EGP 100.
The Axis memorials are in the area of New Alamein, about 10 km to the west of the former.
- 6 German War Cemetery. The German cemetery is at Height 26, north of the highway. The octagonal central part is made of Egyptian limestone and was inaugurated on 28 October 1959. It has a diameter of 42 metres and towers 12 metres in height on the corners, and was inspired by Castel del Monte in Andria (in the south of Italy). On the rear wall of the lobby, there's a golden mosaic depicting a cross and the Four Evangelists, and the lobby also has a memorial to 31 unknown soldiers. The inner yard has seven cenotaphs with names of German regions, and there are plates with names of 4280 soldiers buried at the cemetery. The memorial was designed by architect Robert Tischler.
- 7 Italian War Cemetery. A few kilometres northwest of the German memorial, along the highway, at Height 33 "Tell el-Eyssa". The entrance is through the "leaf alley" with four 47 mm guns and a small chapel with the remains of the Italian construction workers who died when working on Egyptian dams. The alley leads to the massive octagonal central tower made of marble. Inside the tower there's a gallery with and altar and five big windows. Around it there are the graves of around 4,600 named and 2,500 unnamed Italian soldiers. The memorial was designed by Paolo Caccia Dominioni di Sillavengo, and there are good views to the surroundings.
- 8 Libyan Cemetery. Libya was an Italian colony before WWII, and thus there were Libyans fighting on the Italian side. Next to the Italian memorial, there's an Libyan cemetery where 228 soldiers are buried, and it also has its own mosque.
East of Marina El-Alamein is the Greek-Roman archaeological site of 9 Leukaspis, also known as Antiphrai. There's an entrance fee of 20 EGP for foreigners (10 EGP for foreign students).
The remains of a former port city stretches along the coast for about 1,600 m (one mile), though it's not right at the coast but about 600 m inland. Leukaspis is composed of a settlement part with a main square (agora) and remains of dwelling houses, a basilica from the 4th century, and a cemetery with mausoleums and tombs with superstructures.
Under construction since 2018, all buildings and everything else in this city (or part of El Alamein) are new.
- 10 Al-Mawla mosque. mosque
- 11 Marsaliya mosque. mosque
- 12 Massa mosque. mosque
- 13 Rahman mosque. mosque
- 14 Church of the Holy Virgin and Margaret of Antioch.
- 17 Cultural heritage city. An area with museums, a library and a museum garden.
Water sports in Mārīnā el-ʿAlamein is another draw to the region. Activities include water skiing, windsurfing and water scooter riding as well as slower activities like swimming and gondola tours. You can also play golf.
Given this is an upscale resort, there are interestingly no private beaches owned by hotels, but all beaches are open to everyone.
Mārīnā el-ʿAlamein is your best bet for shopping with small stores here and there. Also, there are some malls in New Alamein:
The memorials don't have restaurants or cafés, nor does the Leukaspis site - eat before or after visiting them. There are plenty of restaurants in the hotels of Marina el Alemein, some next to the coastal highway and still some in New Alamein.
- 1 Sea Gull. Seafood restaurant, a sister restaurant to the one in Alexandria.
- 2 Chef Mansour Pizza.
- 3 Chili’s, ☏ +20 114 088 6713. A restaurant of the American chain.
- 4 Golden Fish Porto, ☏ +20 111 772 0026.
- 5 Studio Misr, Alexandria–Marsa Matruh Rd, New Alamein. Meat dishes.
In addition, global fast food chains are present.
The entire coast near El Alamein is covered by fancifully-laid-out villa complexes; eleven kilometres of it is the Porto Marina, which is regarded as an elite resort by Egyptian standards but reasonably affordable to Western travellers.
In Marina el-AlameinEdit
- 1 Porto Marina Resort & Spa, Marina el Alamein Village, Km 105, Alex Matrouh Desert Rd., Marina 3, ☏ +20 46 445 2711, fax: +20 46 445 2712, email@example.com.
- 2 Marina Plaza Resort, Km 94, Alex Matrouh Desert Rd., Marina 1, ☏ +20 46 406 1128.
- 3 Golden Ocean Marina (formerly Ocean Blue Marina), Km 94, Alex Matrouh Desert Rd., Island 22, Marina 5, ☏ +20 46 445 2270, +20 46 445 2272, +20 46 445 2273.
- 4 Sea Gull Marina Hotel, Km 94, Alex Matrouh Desert Rd., Marina 2, ☏ +20 46 406 1464, +2046 406 1091, +2046 406 1090, +2046 406 1015.
- 5 Venecia Inn Marina, Commercial Market, Zone 17, Marina 5, ☏ +20 46 445 3396.
In New AlameinEdit
- 6 Golf Porto Marina.
- 7 Stella Marina Resort, 41, El Alamein.
- 8 Al Alamein Hotel, Sīdī ʿAbd er-Raḥman, El Dabaa Center (about 30 km west of el-Alamein), ☏ +20 46 468 0140, +2046 468 0343, fax: +20 46 468 0341.
- 9 Aida Beach Hotel, 77 km Alexandria Matruh Road, ☏ +20 46 410 2802, +2046 410 2814, fax: +20 46 410 2818, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 10 Rixos Alamein (vormals Charm Life Resort El Alamein, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Al-Alamein), 140 km Alexandria Matruh Road, Ghazalah Bay (between Sīdī ʿAbd er-Raḥman and ed-Dabaa), ☏ +20 46 419 0060, +2046 419 0061, +2046 419 0075, fax: +20 46 419 0065, email@example.com.
- 1 El Alamein Central Hospital, Km 107 Alex Matrouh Desert Rd., El Alamein, ☏ +2046 410 0212.
- 2 Monastery Abū Mīnā – A monastery and archaeological site, this was one of the most important Christian pilgrimage destinations during the Late Antiquity. It's an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- 3 Abū Ṣīr – Taposiris magna – A village with the Greek-Roman temple of Taposiris magna.
- 4 Marseille-Pyramid – 25 Kilometer west of El Alamein is a WWII military memorial dedicated to the most successful pilots of the Afrika Korps.
- 5 Alexandria – The second largest city in Egypt, a little over 100 km east.
- 6 Marsa Matruh – Capital of the Matrouh Governorate near the Libyan border, with beaches and a Rommel Museum.