Lighthouse of Alexandria
Table of contents
The lighthouse of Alexandria or the Pharos of Alexandria, is one of the world’s seven wonders. In addition to its amazing structure, it was serving ships in the Egyptian port for centuries by directing those ships with its bright light to avoid collision with dangerous navigational areas, which made Alexandria, the bride of the Mediterranean, a center of trade in the ancient world.
Who built the lighthouse of Alexandria, and when:
- The lighthouse of Alexandria was built by the Greek architect (Sostratus), which is written (Σώστρατος ο Κνίδιος) in the Greek language.
- Construction began during the reign of (Ptolemy I “Soter”), one of the leaders of Alexander the Great, and ended during the reign of his son (Ptolemy II “Philadelphus”) in 280 BC.
Lighthouse of Alexandria location and specifications:
- The lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt was on the edge of the Pharos peninsula, which is where the Citadel of Qaitbay is now located.
- The lighthouse of Alexandria is about 130 meters high, consisting of four floors:
The “ground floor of the lighthouse”: was a square with a height of approximately 60 meters, and had a number of rooms, about 300 rooms, to be inhabited by the workers in charge of operating the lighthouse and their families, and to store the machines and tools. There were statues of the god of the seas (Triton) on the four corners of the ground floor’s ceiling.
The “second floor of the lighthouse”: was octagonal, with a height of approximately 30 meters.
The “third floor of the lighthouse”: was round above which there was the top of the lighthouse, and it contained the lamp that illuminated to guide the ships, which was built on about 8 columns and a dome bearing a statue that was approximately seven meters long.
- The lighthouse of Alexandria was built of “limestone”, and the columns are of granite.
- According to one historian, the fires that burned at the top of the lighthouse were so bright that they could be mistaken for a star in the dark, and during the day the fog made them visible as well.
This wonderful building, which was extremely high at that time, was included in the list of the world’s Seven Wonder.
The reason behind building the lighthouse of Alexandria:
- Alexander the Great built the city of Alexandria 20 miles west of the Nile River, to be a port in the Mediterranean Sea, which in turn contributed to the growth and prosperity of the city.
- In the era of Ptolemy I, the construction of the lighthouse of Alexandria began, and ended in the era of his son, Ptolemy II, to be a lighthouse that directs ships heading to the port, and to warn ships of dangerous navigational areas.
Why was it called the “Pharos” of Alexandria?
- Some opinions say it was named after the Pharos peninsula.
Fate of the Lighthouse of Alexandria:
- The lighthouse of Alexandria was subjected to more than one earthquake, but the last and most severe of them completely destroyed it, which was the earthquake of 1303 AD, which led to a tsunami that destroyed many buildings in Egypt, specifically Alexandria.
- In 1304 AD, Prince Rukn al-Din Baybars made some attempts to repair the lighthouse of Alexandria.
- When Sultan Qaitbay visited the city of Alexandria, he ordered the construction of the castle “Qaitbay Castle” in place of the lighthouse.
- During one of the archaeological missions, parts of the old lighthouse were discovered, and based on the studies they conducted on those parts, they were able to imagine the structure of the old lighthouse.