Monuments Sight Seeing Attractions Pompeii Pillar
Monuments Sight Seeing Attractions Pompeii Pillar An approximately 25m red Aswan granite column with a circumference of 9m, was constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletain. Originally from the temple of the Serapis, it was once a magnificent structure rivaling the Soma and the Caesareum.
Nearby are subterranean galleries where sacred Apis bulls were buried, and three sphinxes.
After his defeat by Julius Caesar in the civil war, Pompey fled to Egypt where he was murdered in 48 BC; mediaeval travelers later believed he must be buried here, and that the capital atop the corner served as a container for his head.
In fact, the pillar was raised in honor of Diocletain at the very end of the 4th century.
Diocletain captured Alexandria after it had been under siege.
The Arabs called it “Amoud el-Sawari”, Column of the Horsemen.
The Pillar is the tallest ancient monument in Alexandria.
This massive 30m column looms over the debris of the glorious ancient settlement of Rhakotis, the original township from which Alexandria grew.
Known as Pompey’s Pillar, for centuries the column, hewn from red Aswan granite, has been one of the city’s prime sights: a single, tapered shaft, 2.7m at its base and capped by a fine Corinthian capital. The column rises out of the sparse ruins of the Temple of Serapeum, a magnificent structure that stood here in ancient times.
Alexandria Independent Adventure
The column was named by travellers who remembered the murder of the Roman general Pompey by Cleopatra’s brother, but an inscription on the base (presumably once covered with rubble) announces that it was erected in AD 291 to support a statue of the emperor Diocletian.
Underneath the column, steps lead downward to the great temple of Serapis, the god of Alexandria.
Also here was the ‘daughter library’ of the Great Library of Alexandria, which was said to have contained copies and overflow of texts.
These scrolls could be consulted by anyone using the temple, making it one of the most important intellectual and religious centres in the Mediterranean.
In AD 391 Christians launched a final assault on pagan intellectuals and destroyed the Serapeum and its library, leaving just the lonely pillar standing.
The site is now little more than rubble pocked by trenches and holes, with a couple of narrow shafts from the Serapeum to explore below, a few sphinxes (originally from Heliopolis) and a surviving Nilometer (a structure used to measure and record the level of the Nile in ancient times).
The pillar on top is the only ancient monument remaining whole and standing in Alexandria today.