Map of cities founded by Alexander the Great.

Famous Cities Founded by Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great accomplished a lot in his lifetime as a conqueror. He overthrew the Persian Empire and created the foundation for the Hellenistic kingdoms. People often exaggerate much of Alexander the Great's life. In his own lifetime, people told fantastical stories about him. Later the stories turned into a legend where Alexander was the hero of the story. There are some historical stories about Alexander the Great that are not exaggerated. For example, Alexander the Great's success in founding cities. Some of the cities initially founded by Alexander the Great still exist today.

Alexandria ad Aegyptum

The fortress in Alexandria, Egypt
The fortress in Alexandria, Egypt.

Alexandria ad Aegyptum, also known as the ancient city of Alexandria, was one of the most famous cities founded by Alexander the Great. Located near Egypt, Alexandria was on the shores of the Mediterranean, on the Nile Delta. Founded in 332 BCE by Alexander the Great, Alexander intended to make Alexandria his empire's new capital. Unfortunately, Alexander the Great died before he could see his plans for the city follow through. His favorite general, Ptolemy I Soter, continued Alexander's plans for the city, making it the capital of the Ptolemaic kingdom. The city went on to become a thriving cultural and economic center of the ancient world. In the 3rd century BCE, Alexandria had a population of over half a million, making it the largest city at the time. A point of particular interest in the city, was the extensive library. It attracted curious minds from all disciplines to the city.

Alexandria ad Issum

Sea, mosque and mountain view in Iskenderun during the sunny day
Sea, mosque, and mountain view in Iskenderun on a sunny day. Image credit Yusuf Ucuz via Shutterstock

Nicknamed little Alexandria, Alexander the Great founded Alexandria ad Issum in 333 BCE. The city has gone by many names, including Alexandretta, Iskenderun, and Little Alexandria. Alexander the Great founded the city after he earned his first major victory in battle against the Persian Empire. The Battle of Issus was between the Macedonian king and the Persian King Darius III. At the end of the fight, Darius III fled the battlefield, leaving his family behind at the mercy of Alexander the Great. Today, the ancient city Alexandria ad Issum no longer exists, but historians believe the city was near modern-day Iskenderun. This city sits on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Turkey.

Alexandria Eschate

Citadel walls in Khujand, Tajikistan
Citadel walls in Khujand, Tajikistan.

Alexander the Great founded more cities after conquering regions previously part of Persia. One of these cities was Alexandria Eschate, founded in 329 BCE. The city was significant for its positioning in central Asia. It was Alexander's northernmost city in Central Asia. Many Persian rebels lived in the area, banished prior to Alexander's founding of the city. So many Greeks and Persians were living in exile in the area prior to Alexander's arrival that Alexander had a good starting population to build his city. While the city does not exist today, the remains of the city are in the citadel in Khojand, Tajikistan.

Alexandria Ariana

The Citadel of Herat, Afghanistan
The Citadel of Herat, Afghanistan, would could be built overtop of Alexandria Ariana.

Alexandria Ariana, was one of the earliest cities founded by Alexander the Great. He founded the city after Alexandria Eschate, in 330 BCE in the Achaemenid province, which crumbled with the Achaemenid Empire. Alexander founded the city during his invasion of Persia and Central Asia. The name of Alexandria Ariana is Greek and roughly translates to Alexandria of the Arians. Historians estimate that the city is in the area of modern-day Herat, Afghanistan, but have been unable to locate the precise spot because there have been no modern-day excavations. The area would have been of strategic and economic importance at the time.

Alexandria In The Caucasus

View of the mountains of the Hindu Kush from Tajikistan. Panoramic view of snow-capped peaks. Traveling in Asia, Silk Road.
Mountains of the Hindu Kush, traveling in Asia, Silk Road.

Another city founded by Alexander the Great but part of modern-day Afghanistan was Alexandria in the Caucasus. Alexander the Great founded the city in 329 BCE, during his conquest of the Indian subcontinent. The city was an important point of communication, with foundations at the base of the Hindu Kush mountains. In order to bring the city to life, Alexander populated it with 7,000 Macedonians, 3,000 mercenaries, and thousands of people from other cultures. At the foot of the Hindu Kush, he also commissioned the construction of forts to strengthen his control over the city. 

Alexandria Arachosia

The Friday Mosque of Kandahar City in Afghanistan
The Friday Mosque of Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Similar to Alexandria the Caucasus, Alexandria Arachosia, also known as Alexandropolis, was a city founded by Alexander the Great that is part of modern-day Afghanistan. Alexander established Alexandria Arachosia in 330 BCE, on the foundations of an Achaemenid fortress. Founding the city was a strategic move for Alexander the Great. Alexandria Arachosia was in the middle of the silk road, an important trade route between Europe and Asia in ancient times. Alexandria Arachosia was a particularly special city founded by Alexander the Great, as the city is still standing today. Today the city is also called Kandahar in Afghanistan. The remains of the city of Alexandria Arachosia are in the tell Old Kandahar citadel.

Legacy of Alexander the Great

These cities are only a few of the famous cities founded by Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great founded more than 20 cities during his conquests, creating an influential period in history with the dawn of the Hellenistic era. This era spread Greek culture around the world. Some of Alexander's cities have stood the test of time and remain today. For example, Kandahar (Alexandria-Arachosia) and Herat (Alexandria-Ariana). The Hellenistic period was responsible for some of the most beautiful art and architecture. These feats were possible because of Alexander the Great's conquest.


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