Rosetta (also called Ar Rashid) squats on the western branch of the Nile. It was founded in the 9th century, but its heyday was during the 18th and 19th centuries, when it became Egypt’s most significant port. British tourists flocked to the town in the 1800s to see charming Ottoman mansions and to stroll through the many citrus groves. Alas, as Alexandria got back on its feet and regained power in the mid-19th century, Rosetta was thrust into near-irrelevance.
Today its backwater appeal strikes a contrast with the modern hustle of nearby Alexandria. The citrus groves have mostly disappeared, but some restored mansions are open to visitors. The unpaved streets are packed with donkeys pulling overloaded carts, and the souq area has an atmosphere of centuries past, with basket-weavers artfully working fronds and blacksmiths hammering away in medieval-looking shopfronts.