The Lighthouse of Alexandria was once one of the seven wonders of the world. While the lighthouse no longer exists today, one can walk in the place where it once stood and see some of the stones that went into building it. The spot to visit if this piques your fancy, is Fort Qaitbey. If it doesn’t then visit anyway because Fort Qaitbey is gorgeous and is something that shouldn’t be missed!
LOCATION AND ENTRANCE FEES OF FORT QAITBEY
The Fort Qaitbey lies on eastern harbour of Alexandria and dominates the skyline with its fairy-tale like look. Built in 1480, this fort is still very old and has its own tales to tell if you know where to look. The entrance fees is EGP 40 per person and there is no camera fee.
THE TALE OF FORT QAITBEY
The lighthouse of Alexandria collapsed after an earthquake an lay in ruins for almost a hundred years. It was Mamluk Sultan Qaitbey who ordered the fortification of the harbour and that was how the fort came to be built and name. The Fort Qaitbey was built on the very spot that the lighthouse once stood and some of the stones of the lighthouse were used in its construction. The Citadel of Qaitbey lies in its centre.
EXPLORING FORT QAITBEY
We caught a break in the shade.
If you plan on exploring the fort, you will find that you have a lot of ground to cover. As you walk through the gates of Fort Qaitbey, you pass through a security check where you will have to show the security guards the contents of your bag. You will be asked twice if you carry a camera stand and then be waved in. As soon as you get in, you will be treated to the sight of the main building in the centre of the fort. Green gardens surround it and a couple of cannons lie on display. This part of the fort makes for the prettiest pictures. The hot sun however will send you to cover pretty quickly, particularly if you arrive mid-day. That is why we feel that the best time to visit the fort is either early morning or towards the evening.
THE CITADEL OF QAITBEY
Inside the fort.
Located at the centre of Fort Qaitbey lies a structure that looks gorgeous and which served a number of different purposes. This structure is none other that the Citadel of Qaitbey. With three different floors, you will find that each floor has its own area of importance. Within these hallowed halls lies a mosque where people prayed. Rooms were designed to store grain, to house mills and to store armoury. One particularly noteworthy site is the well like structure that opens from the floor above the entrance. This was used to pour hot oil on any invader who breached the outer defences.
The high arched rooms with windows that over look the sea are rather beautiful. Despite the afternoon heat, you will find that the inside of the building remains cool. If you sit next to one of the windows, you will find the sea breeze particularly refreshing.
THE WALLS OF FORT QAITBEY
The well through which they poured hot oil on the intruders.
The Citadel of Qaitbey is surrounded by the walls of Fort Qaitbey on all sides. You can walk both on top of these walls and within. I suggest doing both because it gives you different views and perspectives of Fort Qaitbey in general. Try to head to the top of the wall when the sun isn’t too hot. While we did not do it, I would imagine watching the sunset from Fort Qaitbey would be pretty awesome too!