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Lighthouse of Alexandria

It all started in the early 90s, when huge volumes of concrete were thrown into the sea in the eastern port of Alexandria, to fend off the waves of the Mediterranean fortress built on the island of Pharos in 1477 the Mameloukos Sultan Kait-Bey, on the foundations of the ancient lighthouse.


The filmmaker Asma El Mpakri shuddered at the sight of boulders threatening to bury forever an important part of world historic heritage. The blocks were "sit" on antiquities.

So in October 1994, six French and six Egyptians divers began underwater surveys to identify and record parts of buildings and monuments of ancient Alexandria. Sphinxes, obelisks and statues-giants testify before a brilliant economic, cultural and religious center of the Mediterranean. Many of the artfully sculptured stones were parts of one of the Seven Wonders of Antiquity, the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

What we know truth, so this edifice, which for centuries was the stigma of the city and led safely ships in port? From the time of Homer (8th century BC) and perhaps earlier, the small island of Pharos , with its natural harbor, used by foreign merchants as a safe station for ships on their way to Kanoviko arm Nile, Egypt, where he met traders who had descended the great river.

The  city of Alexandria was founded in 331 BC from Megas Alexandros and, thanks to its privileged position, began to evolve rapidly. Two, however, were the problems faced by approaching from the Mediterranean ships: the low coast with no help him find harbor and reefs around the island lighthouse when the crimp had storm.

Alexander's childhood friend and Governor of Egypt Ptolemy A 'quickly realized that they needed a tall building and a mechanism that would facilitate ships to identify the city and enter the harbor safely. The building was constructed on the island of Pharos, from which they get their name since the lighthouses.

The erection of the lighthouse began in 285 BC around and ended in 279 BC The testimony of historians differ as to height. The most reliable estimate based on luminescence. The Ioudaios Iosipos historian says that the lighthouse was visible from a distance of 300 steps, which is 30 nautical miles today.

From this we conclude that the amount should have been about 150 meters. Arabic  testimonies paint a picture of a three-storey lighthouse. The floor was marble with square plan, the first floor with octagonal and the second with cyclical. From over there was the light source and on top a statue of Neptune, height 7 meters.

The ground floor of the building has many windows and included about 300 rooms for the guard and technicians, and large storages for wood burning lighthouse. In the center of the building was vertical staircase with two helical ramps, wide enough to pass a loaded animal, and some mechanical devices that raise the top of the wood. The stairs had plenty of natural light from skylights in the exterior walls.

From narratives of the time, we know that the lighthouse had a mirror was used to reflect a flame of resinous wood. The day the lighthouse seemed mainly from tobacco. Certain narratives describe the dish as if it were made of glass and even in a concave shape. The legend says that when he looks into the mirror of the lighthouse, you could see ships were far away and not be seen with the naked eye. Or that the mirror could gather sunlight and burn enemy ships from a great distance. It is said that the Archimidis had designed the optical device of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse also had other wonderful machines. At the top of the tower and the statue of Poseidon had a complex mechanism that allowed it to rotate and up and down hand showing the position of the sun day and night. Another statue with melodic tones announce the hours of the day as the clocks of medieval monasteries had dials and indicators. It is also said that there was a statue of a Tritona screeching loud alarm when someone hostile fleet lifted anchor, even though he was days away, while others Tritones trumpets that brought their sound helped ships approaching the port when there was fog.

All this would seem incredible if we had still preserved a coin of his era, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, depicting the statue of Poseidon and Tritones. Sixteen centuries the lighthouse withstood the storms of the open sea and frequent large earthquakes. They had repeatedly made efforts to repair the damage and maintenance of this glorious edifice until the first half of the 14th century when it was destroyed due to rather strong earthquake. Thus, the "pieces" of one of the Seven Wonders of the Cosmos scattered at the bottom of the Alexandrian sea to come back to light nowadays.

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