The Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Yet it was lost to history until 1994 when it was rediscovered in 1994 by a team of French archaeologists looking for it in Alexandria's Eastern Harbor. For hundreds of years, no one even knew where the Lighthouse once stood.
Today the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World left standing is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Pyramid of Giza was already ancient when the list of wonders was compiled. But while it is still standing today, it is a shadow of what it once was - it was part of an illustrious complex.
History of The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was commissioned by the first Ptolemy (the Greek general who stayed behind to rule after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt). It was completed by the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
Building the lighthouse was a mammoth and expensive undertaking. It took some 33 years to build from 280 to 247 BC and is thought to have cost twice that of the Parthenon.
- Constructed: From 280 to 247 BC (33 Years)
The tower was staggered and built in three stages of decreasing size. When it was built it is thought to have been second in height only to the Great Pyramid of Giza. For many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures on earth and is thought to have stood at least 100 meters or 330 feet high.
It proved light by a fire burning close to the top of the lighthouse every night. The light was enhanced with a burnished bronze mirror.
It was repairable damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323 AD after which it became an abandoned ruin. It managed to survive to 1480 when the last of its stones were repurposed to build the Citadel of Qaitbay.
- Destroyed: By Three Earthquakes Between 956 and 1323 AD
- Repurposed: Most of Its Stone Was Repurposed To Build The Citadel of Qaitbay
Discovery Of The Lighthouse and More
The dives by the French team of archaeologists found much more than the Lighthouse of Alexandria. They found many collapsed columns and statues and 49-60 ton blocks of granite. Notably, they also found 30 sphinxes, 5 obelisks, and columns with carvings that date back to the time of Ramses II who ruled from 1279 to 1213 BC.
They cataloged over 3,300 pieces. 36 of the granite blocks and other discoveries are now on display at Alexandria museums.
Since then there has been the discovery of additional wharves, temples, and houses that have fallen into the Mediterranean. These discoveries have been made with the help of satellite and sonar imaging.
Visiting The Lighthouse of Alexandria Today
Today it is possible to see the ruins of the ancient lighthouse that have tumbled into the harbor by diving.
One can discover not only the giant granite blocks believed to be the remnants of the Lighthouse of Alexandria but much more. The area just offshore from Fort Qaitbey contains sphinxes, columns, capitals, and statues dating from the Pharaonic, Greek, and Roman eras. See the blocks that broke as they fell from their great height.
- Depth: 8-15 Meters
- Rating: Novice
According to Everything Everywhere, the only dive shop in town that can arrange for a dive is Alexandra Dive. Their experts are headed by Dr. Ashraf Sabry who has been exploring the coastline around here for decades. Lonely Planet lists the prices as:
- 2-dive package: €80 Or €60 With Own Equipment
There can be poor visibility in the day depending on the time of year - as little as 1 meter. Everything Everywhere says that the visibility can be around 10 to 12 meters and everywhere one can see large rectangular blocks, pillars, stone chairs, and even sphinxes.
The Island Of Pharos And Other Nearby Dive Sites
- Pharos Island: Home To Over 5000 Archeological Pieces
Other Dive Sights Include:
- HMS Attack Wreck: Also The SS Aragon Both Torpedoed By A German Submarine In 1917
- Sunken Cities Of Abu-Qir: Includes The Remanents of The Temple of Heracleion From The 6th Century (Also Has Giant Statues of Gods, Ptolemaic Kings, Their Consorts, and more)
- Wreck Of The Dalia S: A Syrian Cargo Ship That Sank In 200