Marsa Matruh

Marsa Matruh
By Mia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Siwa Oasis

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Egypt · Marsa Matruh

Marsa Matruh is a seaport in Egypt, the capital of the Matrouh Governorate. It lies on a bay on the Mediterranean and is distinguished by its 7-kilometer-long beach, which-as all visitors have testified-is one of the most beautiful in the world. It is a major tourist resort and serves as a getaway resort for Europeans as well as Cairenes. It is served by Marsa Matruh Airport.

The beach is famous for its white soft sands and calm transparent waters, for the bay is protected from the high seas by a series of rocks forming a natural wave-breaker, with a small opening to allow light vessels in.

During summer the Mediterranean town of Marsa Matruh is the real-deal Egyptian resort-town experience. From June to September it can seem like half of the lower Nile Valley has decamped here for their holidays. The brilliant-white, sandy beaches are squeezed full of families; the dusty streets buzz with people well into the wee hours of the morning; throngs of street stalls sell hot food and souvenirs; and impromptu street musicians bang out rhythmic tunes.

For the rest of the year, Marsa Matruh presses the snooze button and returns to its usual near-comatose state. The city’s turquoise water bays lie empty and the only visitors are Bedouins and Libyans stocking up on goods.

In ancient times Marsa Matruh was called “Amounea” as it was the gateway to Siwa, home to a temple dedicated to the god “Amoun.” Old references mention that Alexander the great was the one who built it. There was also a palace for Cleopatra on the high hill overlooking the famous bay of Marsa Matruh with its wide shore and smooth white sands extending for long distances and sloping gradually into the pure blue waters of the Mediterranean with the civilized mass of the city to the rear.