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Alexandria

My favourite garden in Alexandria: Montazah Park, way to the east and in every way about as far from the mad scramble of downtown Alex as you can get – thankfully! It was created as a summer residence and resort by King Abbas II around the turn of the C20. Most of the 350-acre site was laid out as woodland, with generous plantings of maritime pines (Pinus marihma) imported from Europe, plus palms – among the tallest I have seen – that bend crazily in the stiff breezes coming off the sea.

There are formal gardens around the fantastical palace in the “Florentine-Turkish” (or “Florentine-Moorish”) style; plus additional landscaping with twee pathways and bridges, and planted with succulents, that doesn’t quite work. A great place for peace and quiet. E. M. Forster wrote: “The scenery is unique in Egypt and of the greatest beauty.” It is still lovely, and summer walks among the trees are a real treat, especially at sunset.

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