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From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major center of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centers in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton. Alexander's chief architect for the project was Dinocrates.
Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world; now replaced by a modern one); and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.
Inheriting the trade of ruined Tyre and becoming the center of the new commerce between Europe and the Arabian and Indian East, the city grew in less than a generation to be larger than Carthage.
In a century, Alexandria had become the largest city in the world and, for some centuries more, was second only to Rome.
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It became Egypt's main Greek city, with Greek people from diverse backgrounds.
Alexandria was not only a center of Hellenism, but was also home to the largest urban Jewish community in the world.
Following a struggle with the other successors of Alexander, his general Ptolemy Lagides succeeded in bringing Alexander's body to Alexandria, though it was eventually lost after being separated from its burial site there.
Although Cleomenes was mainly in charge of overseeing Alexandria's continuous development, the Heptastadion and the mainland quarters seem to have been primarily Ptolemaic work.
As early as the 7th century BC, there existed important port cities of Canopus and Heracleion. An Egyptian city, Rhakotis, already existed on the shore and later gave its name to Alexandria in the Egyptian language (Egyptian *Raˁ-Ḳāṭit, written rˁ-ḳṭy.t, 'That which is built up').
It continued to exist as the Egyptian quarter of the city.
In the modern world, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria both lay claim to this ancient heritage.