and caused another 72 feet (22 meters) of masonry to fall. Despite frequent and sometimes extensive repairs being undertaken by the Arabs, earthquakes continued to have a cumulative effect: no fewer than twenty between 1303 and 1323 meant that the Pharos finally toppled some time before 1349. By then Al-Malik-an-Nasir had begun to build a similar lighthouse beside it but the project was halted at his death. Around 1480 the Egyptian Mameluke Sultan Qait Bey built a fortress over its ruins, using its stones for walls.

In the early 1990s the Egyptian government began building a breakwater to protect the fortress from storms. The project was postponed while archeologists from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the French Centre d’Études Alexandrines searched the harbor. Since 1996 they have found over 2,000 objects, columns, capitals, thirty sphinxes, and—most significantly—two colossal statues (one of Ptolemy I and another of a female torso) scattered over more than 5 acres (2 hectares) of the seabed near Alexandria. It is believed that the finds include the ruins of the fabled Pharos.

In September 1998 the U.S.$70 million Alexandria 21st Century Project was announced by the Fondation Internationale Pierre Cardin, claiming the support of UNESCO and proposing to build a 475-foot-high (145-meter) glass-covered concrete lighthouse on the site of the original Pharos. Happily, it came to very little.

Further reading

Clayton, Peter, and Martin Price. 1988. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. London: Routledge.

Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris. 1996. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett.

Sly, Dorothy I. 1996. Philo’s Alexandria. London: Routledge.

Pisa Cathedral: The Campanile (Leaning Tower)

Pisa, Italy

The city of Pisa stands on the River Arno in the Tuscan region of northern Italy. Its Piazza dei Miracoli is graced by the most beautiful group of Romanesque buildings in the country: the white marble basilican cathedral (begun 1063); the circular, domed baptistery (begun 1153); and the highly original bell tower (campanile), situated between the apse and the southeastern end of the cathedral’s transept and now famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Quite apart from its innovative cylindrical form, the location is remarkable, because bell towers usually stood near the west front of churches. Of course, the tower was designed to be vertical, but it started to lean very early in its construction. Since 1183—only a decade after it was started—repeated and inventive attempts have been made to correct the incline. They continued for 800 years, until the very end of the twentieth century, when modern technology seemed to halt the incremental incline—by then it had reached 10 percent—and save the life of the tower. Taken together, those remedial actions represent a considerable architectural and engineering feat.


The Campanile (Leaning Tower), Pisa, Italy; Bonanno Pisano and others, architects, 1173–1350. Detail of upper levels; the cathedral is in the background.