The Lighthouseof Alexandria

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  • Topic: Alexandria, Egypt, Lighthouse of Alexandria
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  • Published : March 18, 2002
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The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Sostratus, the son of Dexiphanes, the Cnidian, dedicated this to the Saviour Gods, on behalf of those who sail the seas.

Location: On the island of Pharos; now peninsula within the city of Alexandria

The lighthouse was built in 209 BC, and dedicated to Ptolemy Soter and his wife Berenice. It was used to mark the harbor using fire at night and sun rays during the day and a giant mirror that reflected these lights. When Egypt was conquered by the Arabs they took down the mirror and did not restore it. In AD 956 a small earthquake shook the lighthouse but did little damage. Later in 1303 and 1323 two stronger earthquakes shook and left the lighthouse in ruins. In 1480 Qaitbay, an Egyptian Mamelouk Sultan, used the fallen stone and marble to build a medieval fort where the lighthouse once stood.

Of the six vanished wonders the Lighthouse of Alexandria was the last to disappear. Ancient accounts by Strabo and Pliny the Elder give a description of the tower and its marble cover. The monument was constructed of three stages: the lowest square, 183 ft. high with a cylinder core; the middle stage, an octagonal shape that stood 90 ft, and the third stage was a circular addition that stood 24 ft. high. With a total height that rose to 384 ft., equivalent to a 40 story building. The initial core was used to lift and store coal as needed to fuel the fire at night. In ancient times the statue of Poseidon, the lord of the seas, stood at the summit of this building.

Although the monument didn't last to present day, it greatly influenced the building of other lighthouses throughout the Mediterranean and as far as Spain. Thus giving its name Pharos to all the lighthouses in the world.
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