Quitbay Fortress

The Fort Qaitbey has the most visible location in Alexandria, located at the spot of the legendary lighthouse of Pharos. The fort oversees the entrance to the Eastern Harbour, and has nothing but sea in front of it. It can be quite a dramatic place when winter winds throw large waves on to the city!

The fort is best seen from a distance, closer up it has taken too much of 19th century taste to appear as impressive and military as a fort should. Muhammad Ali modernized what was then a 350 year old fort, built around 1480.

The site was as mentioned the place where the famous lighthouse of Pharos once stood. It was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Its dimensions are clad in legends, but it may have been a tremendous 150 metres high. It is said that its square base contained a staggering 300 rooms. It was built in the second half of the 3rd century BCE, and destroued in an earthquake in 1303.

The Fort was founded by Sultan Qaitbay in the 15th C. at the spot of the legendary lighthouse of Pharos. Parts of the remains of the lighthouse can be seen in the construction of the old fort. One of the seven wonders of the ancient World, the lighthouse was an astonishing 125 m in height with approximately three hundred rooms at the bottom for workers. Running through the center was a double spiral ascent and hydraulic machinery that raised fuel to the top.

The lantern at the top of the lighthouse remains a mystery. Some say it contained a polished steel mirror that reflected light by day, and fire by night. Others say it was made of transparent glass. The lantern and the top two stories fell around 700 AD according to many reports, and the rest of the lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake around 1100. In its place a Mosque was built, which was damaged by an earthquake in the 14th century. The entrance is through a gateway made of red Aswan granite. Located beside the mosque is a cistern that was used to store water in case of a siege.