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Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria

About Pompey’s Pillar

Pompey’s Pillar is one of the most remarkable landmarks of the city of Alexandria, Pompey’s Pillar mainly consists of a huge granite column that dates back to the Roman period. However, it represents the ruins of a huge Roman complex that once stood in Alexandria.

Tourists from all regions of the world who visit Egypt would surly pay a visit to Pompey’s Pillar while they are touring Alexandria.

Geographical Location of Pompey’s Pillar

Pompey’s Pillar is situated in the Western section of the city of Alexandria near the historical ancient necropolis of Kom El Shuqafa. Egypt Travel packages usually combine a visit to these two historical sites together with the famous Roman Amphitheatre of Alexandria.

Pompey’s Pillar, better know in Arabic as Amoud El Sawary, can be easily reached by a taxi in Alexandria. Many public transportation means can be used to reach this notable historical site as well. However, it is always  recommended for tourists to book a complete tour to Egypt with one of the credited travel agencies in order to enjoy a wonderfully organized holiday in Egypt.

The History and the construction of Pompey’s Pillar

The Pompey’s Pillar is the only remaining item of a huge Roman complex that was called the Serapuem. This temple was created for the worship of the god Serapis. This remarkable temple was constructed in the ruling period of Ptolemy I at the end of the 3rd century BC.

The most distinguished feature of the god Serapis is that he was created through the blend of many ancient Egyptian gods like Osiris and Apis; the sacred bull with a number of ancient Greek gods like Zeus and Dionysus.

Alexandria at the middle of the 2nd century BC became the center of the worship of Serapis and Ptolemy I decided to construct this huge temple for that ancient Pharaonic and Greek god.

At the time of the Ptolemies, this western section of the city of Alexandria was called the Rokotis and it used to host the necropolis sacred bulls of the god Apis. These sacred bulls were considered to be the recreations of the gods Ptah and Osiris.

A hidden chamber was discovered in the ruins of the Serapuem unearthed a statue of the sacred bull of the god Apis. This large statue is now put on display in the Greco Roman Museum. The discovery of this statue proved undoubtedly that the Apis holly bull god existed in Egypt as far as the ruling period of the Old Kingdom of the ancient Egyptian history.

The original Temple of the Serapuem that was constructed in the ruling period of Ptolemy I was replaced by a newer construction during the ruling period of Ptolemy III at the beginning of the 2nd century BC.

What is really weird about the Pompey’s Pillar that it has nothing to do with the Roman political and army leader; Pompey who lived in the 1st century BC. There were a number of historical theories about the naming of this monument after Pompey. However, all of them were not proved with evidences and they were never recognized by any of the famous Egypt history scholars.

Among these theories was that they claimed that when Pompey escaped from Rome, fearing from Julius Cesar, he resorted to Egypt and he was killed by the Egyptians. Some historians claim that his head was put inside a valuable mortuary jar and was positioned at the top of the pillar.

Unfortunately, almost all of the sections of the Temple of the Serapuem was badly damaged and sacked by the Castilians 391 as the Egyptian Copts have suffered a lot from the brutality of the Roman emperors who ruled Egypt as they executed and imprisoned many Christians at the time.

The Description of Pompey’s Pillar

The historical site of Pompey’s Pillar today consists of a large garden situated over a hill that is full of many interesting archeological finds. The site is usually full of tourists who spend their holidays in Egypt and never miss the chance to explore the marvelous monuments of Alexandria.

The most important item in the historical site of Pompey’s Pillar is surly the pillar itself. It was made out of one piece of red granite and it is 20.75 meters long, 2.70 meters wide in at the bottom of its base, and the width of the crown at the end of the pillar is 2.30. meters. The whole pillar including the base is around 27 meters in height.

This huge pillar, which is considered to be one of the largest memorials ever built in history was constructed in 298 to honor the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This is obvious through the note that is situated in the western side of the bottom of the pillar.

To the left and the right hand side of Pompey’s Pillar, there are two wonderful statues of sphinxes that were made out of red granite as well. Historians claim that they were built in the ruling period of Ptolemy VI, Philometor, who ruled Egypt in the period from 186 to 145 BC. These two statues of Sphinxes were unearthed in 1906 and they present a wonderful addition to the scene of Pompey’s Pillar.

Pompey’s Pillar, together with other historical sites like the Qaitbey Fort, the Roman Amphitheater, the Library of Alexandria, and many other monuments and museums encourage tourists who travel to Egypt to spend a day or two in the city of Alexandria, the pearl of the Mediterranean Sea.

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