Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Just a picture I found on the internet of what was a perception of what the "Pharos of Alexandria" would have looked like.

Most people are aware and know of the Pyramids of Egypt which are one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World", but not many people know that Egypt once contained one of the other "Seven Wonders" as well. The Lighthouse, known as the Pharos of Alexandria, was built on the small offshore island Pharos. It is said that the light from this lighthouse could be seen as far as 35 miles offshore. In ancient times, the lighthouse was used to guide sailors into the tricky harbor to what once was one of the world's centers of civilization.

The idea to build this lighthouse can be credited to Ptolemy I, who was the ruler of Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. Construction was ordered to begin in the year 290 B.C. It was such a huge project though, that it was not finished during his lifetime. The lighthouse was completed after his death by his son Ptolemy II.

The "Pharos" consisted of 3 parts built on top of each other. The bottom part was square and was appoximately 183 feet high. The second part was octagonal in shape and was around 90 feet high. And the third and final part was a 24-foot-high cylinder. If you include the base, the lighthouse was a total height of 384 feet. This would easily be compared to a modern-day 40-story building. This is huge in comparison to lighthouses today. From what I could find on the internet, the tallest modern-day lighthouse is slightly under 200 feet.

The Lighthouse stood for centuries, first and foremost as a beacon to travelers and next as a tribute to the greatness of this ancient civilization. Earthquakes eventually brought down the famed structure, however. The first one, in 1303, shook up the entire area; the second one, 20 years later, did significant structural damage. By this time, also, the Lighthouse had fallen into disrepair because the Arab conqueror of Egypt didn't keep it up. Although the Lighthouse soldiered on, it was done in entirely by Sultan Qaitbay in 1480. The sultan used the stone and marble that had once made up the Lighthouse to build a fort on the very spot where the Lighthouse once stood.

No comments:

Post a Comment