Also known as Pharaohs of Alexandria, The Lighthouse of Alexandria was a huge tower built by the famous Ptolemaic Kingdom between the ages 280 and 247 BC. This tall tower stood at a height of 450 ft (120 and 137 m) tall, making it the tallest man made structure in World for several centuries until it was destroyed.
This Lighthouse was truly one of The Seven Wonders of Ancient World. Unfortunately, this tower was destroyed by a massive earthquake which struck the place between the years 956 and 1323 and it was badly damaged and abandoned. This Lighthouse was the 33rd longest surviving wonder of the ancient world.
Height and Description
A lot has been researched and written about this magnificent Tower. Plenty of research has been undertaken to gather details on it’s built and the architectural marvel involved. Judith McKenzie writes that “The Arab descriptions of the lighthouse are remarkably consistent, although it was repaired a number of times especially after earthquake damage. The height they give varies only fifteen per cent from c 103 to 118m, on a base c. 30 by 30m square… the Arab authors indicate a tower with three tapering tiers, which they describe as square, octagonal and circular, with a substantial ramp”.
It is believed that this tower was constructed using very large light colored blocks of stone. The tower was erected in three stages. The lower section was square and had a central core. The middle section was octagonal while the top section was circular in shape. The apex of the tower had a mirror positioned to reflect sunlight during day. At night a fire was lit in the plain. The masonry blocks of this Lighthouse were all interlocked with molten lead which helped it to withstand the waves.
- The Lighthouse had stairs inside which were probably used by people to reach the beacon chamber and watch the beauty of nature from such a height.
- The Lighthouse had a very large mirror inside which was made from polished bronze. The main intention of having the mirror in this place was the projection of a beam of light from the reflection caused by the fire.
- The Lighthouse of Alexandria was severely damaged by three big earthquakes. After the last earthquake struck it, it turned to ruins and was soon abandoned. The sailors could however see the beam at night. The smoke which rose from the fire was quite important during the day, as it acted as a guide for the sailors. The beam of light as well as smoke was clearly visible from a distance of 100 miles.
- The Lighthouse involved a lot of money in its construction. If we measure it today, it must have cost about three million dollars to build. During that time in 290 BC it involved 800 talents (this was the form of money then). It was completely constructed of limestone blocks.
In the recent times Alexandria City uses the symbol of this Lighthouse on the flag of the Alexandria Governorate and also on their seal. This Lighthouse also appears in the seal of Alexandria University.