Between the ancient settlements of Karmuz and Minia el-Bassal is the rocky plateau of Kom Esh-Shogafa. The town and fishing port of Rhakotis, Alexandria’s oldest neighborhood that predates Alexander the Great, was located here. This is currently one of Alexandria’s most heavily inhabited areas, and it is here that the first catacombs were found. The region was utilized to protect the city by Mohammad Ali Pasha, and it was demolished in 1850.
Kom Esh-ShoKafa excavations began in 1892, but no catacombs were discovered until Friday, September 28th, 1900. The tale goes that a donkey hauling a cart fell through a hole in the earth and into one of the tombs by mistake. Tourists are still told the story! The truth, however, is completely different! Monsieur Es-Sayed Aly Gibarah, Alexandrian mining for stone, found the genuine find. Kom el-Shuqafa, he discovered, dating from the second century AD. The catacombs are the biggest known Roman burial place in Egypt since they were designed to accommodate over 300 dead notables.
After extracting the subsoil water from the 2nd level, Kom Esh-Shokafa was only accessible to the public in 1995. On three floors, the catacombs were carved out of solid rock. Ropes were used to drop the deceased down the spiral staircase’s center well. The entryway features two semicircular niches, each with a seat topped with a shell carved in the niche’s domed upper part. This leads to a rotunda constructed around a central well and topped with an eight-pillared domed kiosk.