The Seven Wonders of the World is a list of the most famous landmarks of the ancient world. The Lighthouse of Alexandria is rightfully called one of them – this is the last of the classic wonders of antiquity. Basic information and interesting facts about this structure, its creation, functions and sad fate can be found on the Internet (as well as a photo of the reconstructed lighthouse), but the impressions of the historical place seen with your own eyes cannot be compared with anything.
The history of the lighthouse on the island of Pharos is firmly connected with the founding in 332 AD of one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world – Alexandria, named after the great conqueror Alexander the Great. For all the time of his campaigns, he managed to found about 17 cities with the same name, but only Alexandria in Egypt managed to survive to our time.
Founding of Alexandria
Alexander the Great approached the choice of a place for the future city with great responsibility. He did not want to locate it in the Nile Delta, so he decided to start construction a little further south, not far from Lake Mareotis. It was planned that in Alexandria there will be two ports – one for merchant ships coming from the Mediterranean Sea, the other for ships sailing from the Nile River.
After the death of the great Alexander, the city came under the rule of Ptolemy I Soter – the pharaoh of Egypt, who ruled at that time. This was the time of prosperity for Alexandria – it became the largest shipping port. In 290 BC, Ptolemy ordered to build a huge lighthouse on the island of Pharos, which would make it easier for sailors at night and in bad weather.
Construction of the Pharos lighthouse
The construction of the Alexandria lighthouse began in the 4th century BC. It is believed that this masterpiece of architectural thought was built by Sostratus, a native of Cnidia. Construction work lasted over 20 years. The Lighthouse of Alexandria is the first building of this type in the world and the tallest structure of the ancient world. This is the answer to the question why the Pharos lighthouse is included in the seven wonders of the world. This magnificent skyscraper was a symbol of power and might, prosperity and greatness, like light in darkness.
The height of the Alexandria Lighthouse is about 600 feet, or 135 meters. At the same time, it looked somewhat different than most of the architectural monuments of that time. It was a three-tiered building with a square at the base, the walls of which were erected from slabs of marble, joined together with a solution with the addition of lead.
We bring to your attention interesting facts about the Alexandria lighthouse, which is part of the seven wonders of the world.
- At the top of the lighthouse there was a fire, the reflections of which were directed into the sea using specially polished metal plates.
- The light from the lights of the Alexandria lighthouse was visible at a distance of more than 60 km.
- The Pharos lighthouse also served as an outpost and observation tower – its height made it possible to see enemy ships long before they approached the city.
- At the top of the building, in addition to metal reflecting plates, there were also interesting technical devices of that time – clockwork mechanisms, weather vanes and much more.
- After the completion of the construction, Sostratus of Cnidus carved his name in one of the walls, and then covered it with plaster and wrote the name of Ptolemy I Soter on it. The architect was well aware that the plaster will wear off over time, and the stone will preserve the name of the real creator of the lighthouse for centuries.
The Alexandria lighthouse was most fully described many years later – already in 1161 AD – by the Arab traveler Abu el-Andalussi. He noted the most significant facts and mentioned that in addition to its main function, the lighthouse also served as a very prominent and popular attraction.
The fate of the Alexandria lighthouse
The lighthouse on the island of Pharos has illuminated the way for sailors for a millennium and a half. But, unfortunately, he was powerless before the forces of nature. Quite strong tremors in 356, 956 and 1303 AD inflicted severe damage on it, and the earthquake of 1326 finally destroyed the seventh wonder of the world – the Lighthouse of Alexandria. His remains were taken apart by Muslims to build their fortress. They were discovered many centuries later – in 1994, and later the image of the building was restored using computer modeling. But such photos are still not able to convey the greatness and power that the Pharos lighthouse possessed.
A hundred years after the destruction on the site of the Alexandria lighthouse, a powerful fort was erected to protect Alexandria from the sea. It has survived and exists in our time – now it houses the Alexandria Historical Museum.