Lighthouse of Alexandria

Lighthouse of Alexandria

Life Swift
Published on October 1, 2023
Lighthouse of Alexandria

Lighthouse of Alexandria, also called as the Pharos of Alexandria was built by Ptolemaic. It was built from 280 to 247 BC which was up to 120 to 137 meter tall. Also, it was one of the 7th wonders and was one of the tallest artificial structure for many centuries. It was badly damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323 AD. It was the third longest surviving ancient wonder until 1480. The last of its particle stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site. In 1994, French archaeologists discovered some antiquities of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern safe haven. As of late 2015, the ministry of state of Antiquities in Egypt has planned, to turn submerged destruction of ancient Alexandria, including those of the Pharos, into an underwater museum.

Construction of lighthouse Alexandria:

The lighthouse of Alexandria was constructed in the 3rd century BC after Alexander death due to fever, at his age of 32. The first Ptolemy announced himself king in 305 BC, and commissioned its construction shortly later on. The building was finished during the sovereignty of his son, the second Ptolemy. It took 12 years to complete the construction, at a total cost of 800 talents. Later, it served as a template for all other lighthouses built in the world.

The light was produced by a heater at the top, and the tower was ordered to have been built it mostly with the solid blocks of limestone. Starbo reported that Sostratus had a devotion engraved in metal letters to the ‘Saviour Gods’. Late on Pliny the elder wrote that Sostratus was the architect, which is challenged.  In the 2nd century the satirist Lucian wrote that Sostratus engraved his name under plaster bearing the name of Ptolemy. It was so that when the plaster with Ptolemy’s name fell off, Sostratus’s name would be visible in the stone.


The lighthouse of Alexandria was badly damaged due to the earthquake of 956 AD, and then again in 1303 and 1323 AD. Finally the stocky residue disappeared in 1480, when the then Sultan of Egypt, Qaitbay, built a Medieval castle on the larger platform of the lighthouse area using some of the fallen stone. After the destruction it was several times built and reconstructed.

Height and description:

Judith McKenzie writes that the Arab description of the lighthouse is exceptionally dependable. Although, it was repaired several times, especially after earthquake destruction. The height they give varies only 15% from 338 to 387 ft on a base 98 by 98 square ft. The Arab authors indicate a tower with three tapering tiers, which they described as square, octagonal and the circular, with a substantial ramp.

The detail description of the lighthouse comes from Arab traveller Abou Haggag Youssef Ibn Mohammed el-Balawi el-Andaloussi, who visited Alexandria in 1166 AD.

It was constructed from the large blocks of light-colored stones. It was made up of three stages: a lower square section with a central core, a middle part with octagonal section and a circular section at the top. At its apex was positioned a mirror which helped in reflecting sunlight during the day. A fire was lit at night. A statue of Poseidon or Zeus stood at top of the lighthouse. The Pharos’s masonry blocks were engaged and locked together using molten lead to resist the pounding of the waves.

The lighthouse remains the civic symbol of the city and government of Alexandria. The special kind of representation of the light house appears in the flag, in the seal of many public services offices and banks, government and in the seal of Alexandria University also.

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