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site information

0900-1600 daily
0900-1200, 1400-1600 fri
£E12 entry
students £E6
camera £E10
video camera £E50

can be reached by
#15 tram from Raml

relevant links

travelogue 2/23


32nd Dynasty

Alexander the Great


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this site

roman baths
villa of the birds
caracalla tombs
catacombs of

bibliotheca alexandrina
montazah palace

pompey's pillar
qaitbay fort
roman excavation
roman theatre


by site
by city
by day


Fort of Sultan Qaitbay

On promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean stands the Fort of Sultan Qaitbay. The current fort was built in the 1480s and added to by subsequent rulers, including Mohammad Ali.

view of the main tower of qaitbay

Inside the fort -- which was closed on the day we visited -- are several floors of Napoleonic and British relics and a naval museum. The fort is a huge castle, approached by a long causeway along the beach that ends up between the main towers, the original entrance to the fort. The modern entrance, to the east, is not as noticeable. There are granite and marble columns built into the facade of the walls, from other temples and buildings in Alexandria.

approaching the original entrance to the fort

While the fort is interesting, it is the site that is important -- Qaitbay sits on the foundations of the Pharos Lighthouse, one of the wonders of the ancient world. This enormous lighthouse -- 125 to 150 meters high -- was a marvel of architecture when it was built. Alexander the Great is rumored to have designed it, and the lighthouse itself was built during Ptolemy II's rule.

walking along the harbor to the fort

The first section, which was square, reputedly contained 300 rooms and hydraulic machinery to raise fuel to the second, octagonal story. The third story was round and housed the lantern -- the light of which was visible some 56km away. It is possible that there was a lens in the lighthouse; a mirror is mentioned more than once in the documents describing it.


abydos Previous Monument pompey's pillar
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roman road

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