Lighthouse of Alexandria Info
There is a long list of reasons that people the world over a highly interested in the Lighthouse of Alexandria, and we are going to try to do our best to list as many of them as humanly possible… so please be patient. This lighthouse was amazing structure that stood tall in Egypt, but for what many say was a great earthquake… this light station is no longer in existence. Built many centuries ago by Egyptian Pharah Ptolemy I Sorter, who apparently died before the structure was completed, this lighthouse(often called Pharos Lighthouse or Pharos Lighthouse Of Alexandria) was an ancient wonder of the world that none of us today have ever seen.
The Alexandria lighthouse was in the east side of the Pharos Island which wasn’t exactly in the middle of the city of Alexandria, but it was pretty close. This structure was constructed towards the start of the 3rd century BC and it is believe that the work needed to complete the lighthouse took somewhere around 12 years. Even in today’s world we know that 12 years worth of construction can cost a pretty penny, and require an immense amount of materials and workers. In the case of the Egyptians they had slaves, so they shouldered the laboring part of this project and it was finally finished somewhere between 283 & 279 BC while Ptolemy Philadelphus was ruling as pharaoh. The work and resources that went into the original construction of this tremendous building was not the only. The report is that prior to this ancient wonder being finally destroyed there were at least a handful of changes that other rulers put in place to make the lighthouse according to their liking. The original architect behind the lighthouse was a greek man from Cnidus in Asia Minor, his name being Sostratos.
There were many reasons that people around Egypt at that time would have loved this lighthouse, 2 of those reasons being it’s size and amazing beauty. For that reason not only did Egyptians adore this lighthouse in Alexandria, but also many tourists from other parts of the ancient world often visited the location. Some scholars state that on the actual lighthouse there was an area where people could purchase and eat food, and there was a balcony at an even higher elevation that would give breath taking views of the sea and land surrounding the lighthouse; something that was a wonder since man made structures that gave people a view from more than 200 feet in the air was unique. As one could imagine, the lighthouse was not the only thing that was so impressive about the Pharos Island lighthouse but even the architecture that went into things like the wall which was made of pure granite and was the length of at least 7 ancient stadiums and was directly attached to the lighthouse structure.
While there are many details about the Alexandrian lighthouse, most of them cannot be confirmed since there isn’t a lot of information about this lighthouse since almost everything connected to it seems to have been destroyed or not yet discovered. That being the case, many people depend on what can be found in a book written by Hermann Thiersch, a German scholar which in the opinion of most people is the #1 source with information about the Pharos lighthouse. During the time Thiersch was writing down his facts, findings, and feels about this massive structure there were plenty of things that surrounded him which would positively influence his work. At the time it was common to see the lighthouse being depicted on smaller replicated models, coins used at the time, and mosaic pieces of art which all helped him get a further appreciation for the lighthouse. What is unfortunate about all of these pieces of historical data is that they do not give too much detail about the lighthouse aside from the basic design that it was believed to have. That is hurtful towards all interested parties today because that means they are only left to reading the writings and findings of people who traveled to the lighthouse in those days, but more often than not the things they said provided quite a bit of detail but even more fantasy which does not help us get a clear idea of how things were in relation to the lighthouse of Alexandria. These records often focus on the bottom floors and section of the lighthouse instead of sections that are higher up, and to this day nothing has been said about the setup that was used to produce light at this ancient light station; this likely being due to the fact that by mid evil times the upper section of the lighthouse had already been damaged and gone.
This isn’t to say or suggest that the writings found from ancient travelers are useless, but instead they do contain a wealth of valuable information that people trust and rely on to this day. Some of the writings found talk about some form of mirror or a gigantic lens that was designed and positioned in a way that the visibility and range of the light could be seen from even further distances than normal. What is displeasing about those details to many critics is that these writings seem to have been penned after the destruction of the top levels of the lighthouse. There is a story that says the huge mirror positioned at the top of the Pharos lighthouse was at times used as a weapon to blind ships of enemies that were approaching, and it at times would cause the intensity of the sun to set the ships on fire. Another story relates that this mirror was also used to view an image of the city Constantinople from one side of the ocean to the other so that it would be easy to see what was happening there. It is stories like this that frustrate both critics and scholars of this lighthouse from Pharos island because it is pretty obvious that such tales are nothing more than a view of the imagination of the writer.
One thing that seems to be accepted as fact is that the tower was constructed with 3 major sections of tiers, this is because every ancient finding that has the Alexandria lighthouse on it shows it to be designed this way. It is believe that somewhere on the inside of the lighthouse there was a spiral walkway that gave easy access for people and more importantly animals to pass and walk up to bring fuel(it is believed to have been wood) to keep the light at the very top blazing strong. There are Moorish travelers who stated that the lighthouse was 300 cubits high, which is a measurement that has different sizes depending in what part of the world you are so it would have been somewhere between 400 and 600 feet tall. There is honestly no way to determine how accurate this number is, but most people believe that the lighthouse was somewhere around 40 stories high according to today’s standards of building. Whatever the actual height of this ancient lighthouse, it was stated that the light from the top of the light station could be seen from 100 miles a way; which with today’s understanding of light, science, and geography… that seems a bit far fetched. Added to that, one would have to naturally wonder how it was possible for a fire that large could burn 24 hours a day 7 days a week without damaging the structure and cracking and breaking the materials used to build the lighthouse.
Understandably many scholars from different nations tend to debate about who had the most influence of how toe lighthouse came to be completed and the materials and architecture used. One thing that people try to determine is where exactly did the materials used come from. A common theory is that stone from Egypt was used and it was then plated with white marble on the outside to give it the amazing beautiful appearance that everyone marveled at. Whatever was used to create the structure, it had to have been very sturdy and well built since it stood for some 2,000 years; which means it stood up to countless violent and strong storms, fierce winds, large waves from the surrounding ocean, and earthquakes… although it was a great earthquake that likely caused the final destruction of this lighthouse on Pharos Island, Alexandria, Egypt. Some people may think that it must not have been as strong as so many believe but the fact is… how many ancient structures from more than 2,000 years ago that are some 400+ feet tall are still standing?
There is plenty of information and stories about what took place some 1,000 to 1,500 years regarding this lighthouse, but we are not going to take the time to write town every belief and tale regarding this lighthouse during that time. The reason is because most of them sound like folk tales and quite often the stories conflict each other. Instead we would like our visitors to focus on what are proven and/or logically details about this lighthouse, and appreciate those things as they are. If you have any questions, suggestions, or additions to what has or hasn’t been said on this page regarding this lighthouse, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us. Enjoy!
Lighthouse of Alexandria Photos