More significant for the history of civilization than
these kingdoms were the Hellenistic  cities, which from the time of
Alexander arose in every part of the eastern world. Some were only garrison
towns in the heart of remote provinces or outposts along the frontiers. Many
more, however, formed busy centers of trade and industry, and became seats of
Greek influence in the Orient. Such cities were quite unlike the old Greek
city-states. They were not free and independent, but made a part of the
kingdom in which they were situated. The inhabitants consisted of Greeks and
Macedonians, comprising the governing class, together with native artisans and
merchants who had abandoned their village homes for life in a metropolis. In
appearance, also, these cities contrasted with those of old Greece. They had
broad streets, well paved and sometimes lighted at night, enjoyed a good water
supply, and possessed baths, theaters, and parks.
 The term "Hellenic" refers to purely Greek
culture; the term "Hellenistic," to Greek culture as modified by
contact with Oriental life and customs.
In the third century B.C. the foremost Hellenistic city
was Alexandria. It lay on a strip of flat, sandy land separating Lake Mareotis
from the Mediterranean. On the one side was the lake-harbor, connected with the
Nile; on the other side were two sea-harbors, sheltered from the open sea by
the long and narrow island of Pharos.  The city possessed a magnificent
site for commerce. It occupied the most central position that could be found in
the ancient world with respect to the three continents, Africa, Asia, and
Europe. The prosperity which this port has enjoyed for more than two thousand
years is ample evidence of the wisdom which led to its foundation.
 The lighthouse on the island of Pharos was considered
one of the "seven wonders" of the ancient world. The others were the
hanging gardens and walls of Babylon, the pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, the
temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the statue of
Zeus at Olympia.