Lighthouse of Alexandria

Pharos Lighthouse stood on the eastern point of Pharos Island some distance from the city center of Alexandria. Constructed at the beginning of the third century BC over a period of about twelve years and at an enormous cost and using considerable slave labor, Pharos Lighthouse was completed and inaugurated by the first Ptolemy's son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, in 283 (some say 279 BC, when Ptolemy Philadelphus held a festival to honor his parents). Prior to its destruction, it underwent a number of modifications by later rulers. The architect was Sostratos, a Greek from the Asia Minor city of Cnidus, whose name also appears on the sanctuary of Appolo at Delphi and on Delos. Though only the king's name was allowed on buildings erected during their reigns in the period, Sostratos got around this by also carving his own with a dedication, which was then covered with plaster. The consecration in honor of Ptolemy was then carved into the plaster, which over time peeled away leaving only Sostratos dedication, which provides, "Sostratos of Cnidus, son of Dexiphanes, to the savior gods, for sailors.

The lighthouse was apparently a tourist attraction from the very beginning. We are told that food was sold to visitors at the observation platform at the top of the first level. A smaller balcony provided a view from the top of the eight-sided tower for those that wanted to make the additional climb. The view from there must have been impressive as it was probably 300 feet above the sea. There were few places in the ancient world where a person could ascend a man-made tower to get such a perspective.

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