town, northern Al-Buhayrah muhafazah (governorate), in the northwestern Nile Delta, Lower Egypt. It lies on the left bank of the Rosetta (ancient Bolbitinic) Branch of the Nile River, 8 mi (13 km) southeast of its entrance into the Mediterranean and 35 mi northeast of Alexandria. The town was founded c. AD 800 by the caliph Harun ar-Rashid, whence its Arabic name. Although important until the 17th and 18th centuries as a trading centre, it declined with the growth of Alexandria. During prosperity it flourished as a cosmopolitan coastal port with a virtual monopoly on delta-grown rice. The town was guarded from sea attacks by two flanking forts. Many mosques, as well as Greek Orthodox and Coptic churches, were built there.
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