Lighthouses of Egypt: Mediterranean Sea

Egypt is famous as the home of the prototype of all lighthouses, the Pharos of Alexandria, built in the early third century BCE. At nearly 120 m (390 ft), it was as tall as a modern skyscraper and much taller than any modern lighthouse. It remained in operation until after the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 and stood for centuries more, finally collapsing after several earthquakes.

In 1869, the completion of the Suez Canal by a French company linked Egypt's Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts and made the country a strategic crossroads. British troops occupied the county in 1882, and it was more or less a British colony until resuming its independence in 1922.

This page includes lighthouses of Egypt's Mediterranean Sea coast; there is a separate page for the Red Sea coast.

Aids to navigation in Egypt are operated by the Central Administration for Ports and Lighthouses, an agency that also oversees the individual port authorities. A private company, the Beacon Company of Egypt, maintains the lights under contract.

The Arabic word for a lighthouse is mnarh or manara (منارة). Ra's is the word for a cape or headland. Transliteration of Arabic to Latin characters can be done in many ways, so alternate spellings are common.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume E of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Beacon Company of Egypt - List of Lights
This light list provides data on each light, but no photos. The Red Sea lights are not included.
Online List of Lights - Egypt
Photos by various photographers posted by Alex Trabas.
Lighthouses in Egypt
Photos available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Egypt
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lighthouses of Africa
Postcards from the collection of Michel Forand.

Port Sa'id Light
1869 Port Sa'id Light, Port Sa'id, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Michael Tyler

Matruh Governate (Western Desert) Lighthouses
* [As Sallum (Saloum)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 10 m (33 ft)) steel post, upper half painted black, lower half white. Salat Anabi has a view across the harbor, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the pierhead at Sallum, a Bedouin village about 8 km (5 mi) east of Libyan border. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6206; NGA 21428.
[Sidi Barrani (Ra's Haleima)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 10 m (33 ft) steel post, painted white with a red top, mounted on a concrete base. No photo available; Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a headland near Sidi Barrani, about 90 km (55 mi) east of the Libyan border. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6204; NGA 21424.
[Ra's Alam el-Rum]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 48 m (157 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) steel post, painted white with a red band, mounted on a concrete base. Osama Hosam has a fuzzy photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on heights above a prominent cape about 15 km (9 mi) east of Mersa Matruh. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6194; NGA 21420.
* Ra's Shakik (Ra's el Shaqiq, El Hamra)
1987. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. Square skeletal tower with lantern, gallery, and a large white rectangular slatted daymark. Mostafa Maged has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse appears much taller than the 15 m (49 ft) listed by NGA. This lighthouse was built to guide tankers arriving at the El Hamra Oil Terminal, just offshore, where oil from Egypt's Western Desert is shipped. Located on a promontory about 30 km (19 mi) northwest of El Alamein. Site status unknown. ARLHS EGY-044; Admiralty E6193; NGA 21418.

Al-Iskandariyya (Alexandria) Governate Lighthouses
* [Tower of Abusir (Abuqir)]
3rd Century BCE (restored during the 20th Century). 17 m (56 ft) 3-stage stone tower, with a square base, octagonal central section, and round top section. Wikipedia has Gene Poole's photo, Wikimedia has a 2013 photo, Troels Myrup has a 2008 photo, and Bing has a satellite view. The tower stands near the ruins of the Temple of Osiris at Taposiris Magna, a large Greco-Roman cemetery complex. The tower was built during the reign of the pharoah Ptolemy II in the middle of the 3rd Century BCE. The tower is a 1/10-scale replica of the famous Pharos of Alexandria. Although it is frequently identified as a lighthouse, there is little evidence that it was used in that fashion. Many scholars believe it was only a funerary monument. Located at Abu Sir, 48 km (30 mi) southwest of Alexandria. Site open, tower status unknown.
El Agami
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 14 m (56 ft) stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted with black and white vertical stripes. No photo available, but Bing has a good satellite view. Located on a spit at the westernmost entrance to the harbor area, about 20 km (13 mi) southwest of the center of Alexandria. Site status unknown. ARLHS EGY-012; Admiralty E6173.5 (?); NGA 21412.5.
El Dikheila (El Dikhelia) Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 27 m (89 ft) concrete tower, painted with red and yellow horizontal bands. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on the waterfront of the Dikheila harbor east of El Agami. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6191.1; NGA 21413.5.
Great Pass (Great Pass Beacon)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); white flash every 4 s. 21 m (69 ft) round cylindrical tower mounted on a round concrete pier. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Lighthouse painted with red, green and white horizontal bands. The tower has a lean due to a collision with a ship. Located about 1.6 km (1 mi) north of the harbor entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EGY-046; Admiralty E6174; NGA 21370.
Al Maks Lower (Great Pass Range Front) (1)
1894. Inactive since 1908. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) hexagonal concrete tower; the former conical dome is in ruins. H. Dorry has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Forand has a historic postcard view of the beacon when it was in service. It was abandoned due to a change in the line of approach to the harbor. Located on an islet just offshore, about 250 m (275 yd) northeast of the current front range light. Accessible only by boat. Site appears open, tower closed.
* El-Boughaz el-Kebir (Great Pass Range Front) (2)
1908 (station established 1894). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); three continuous lights, red near the top of the tower, white in the center, and red near the bottom. 20 m (66 ft) round tapered tower with a domed top rather than a lantern; the lights are shown through small openings. Tower painted with vertical red and white stripes. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo (also seen at right), and Google has a satellite view. Capt. Peter calls these lights "the most beautiful leading lights in the world." The range guides ships into the modern harbor of Alexandria, about 13 km (8 mi) southwest of the old city. The lighthouse stands beside the main street along the coast in an industrial area. Site appears open, tower closed. ARLHS EGY-013; Admiralty E6176; NGA 21356.
* Al Maks Upper (Great Pass Range Rear)
1894. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); two continuous white lights, one above the other; the lower is at a focal plane of 29 m (95 ft). Approx. 30 m (98 ft) round tower with double gallery and a dome topped by a ball-and-spike daymark. Upper half of tower painted black, lower half white. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo (also seen at right), and Google has a satellite view. Located 740 m (0.46 mi) southeast of the front light, adjacent to a large petroleum tank farm. Site appears open, tower closed. ARLHS EGY-039; Admiralty E6176.1; NGA 21360.
Great Pass Range Lights
Sunset over the Great Pass Range Lights, Alexandria
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger; used by permission
Alexandria Quarantine Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); green flash every 3 s. 19 m (62 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted green. The top of the tower carries a rectangular slatted daymark painted green with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, but the tower is not seen clearly in Google's satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater on the east side of the entrance to Alexandria's west harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6182; NGA 21384.
Arsenal Basin West Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 3 s. Approx. 16 m (52 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with two galleries. The upper half of the tower is enclosed by daymarks colored with red and white horizontal bands. Nikolay Prokopenko has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of a mole in Alexandria's west harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6189; NGA 21408.
Ra's el-Teen (Ra's at-Tin, Ra's el-Tin)
1848. Active; focal plane 52 m (171 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 30 s. 55 m (180 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted with black and white horizontal bands. Peter and Carolyn Vehslage contributed the photo at right, Trabas has Rainer Arndt's photo, Randolph Eustace-Walden also has a photo, a 2008 photo and a view from the sea are available, and Google has a good satellite view. Forand has postcard views of the lighthouse before and after the black and white daymark was applied. Located at the western tip of the Ra's el-Tin peninsula, marking the entrance to the western harbor of Alexandria. Site probably closed (the lighthouse may be on an Egyptian naval base), tower closed. ARLHS EGY-017; Admiralty E6173; NGA 21344.
Alexandria Outer Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); red flash every 3 s. 19 m (62 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted red. The top of the tower carries a rectangular slatted daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, Francesco de Crescenzo also has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater on the east side of the entrance to Alexandria's west harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6182; NGA 21384.
* Qaitbay (Qaitbey) Fort
Date unknown. Active; continuous yellow light. Google has a satellite view. This light is probably mounted on the wall of the fort. Qaitbey Fort is named for the sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa'it Bay who built it in the 1480s. It is one of Alexandria's best known tourist attractions, and for lighthouse fans it is significant as the location of the ancient Pharos of Alexandria. In fact, much of the stone in the fort came from the ruins of the Pharos. (The ancient stones are easy to recognize: they are much larger than the others.) Archaeologists working nearby have turned up many artifacts believed to come from the classic lighthouse. Located at the eastern tip of the Ra's el-Tin peninsula, marking the entrance to the eastern harbor of Alexandria. Site open. ARLHS EGY-042; Admiralty E6171.4; NGA 21340.
Ra's el-Tin Light
Ra's el-Teen Light, Alexandria
photo copyright Peter and Carolyn Vehslage; used by permission
* Montazah Palace
Date unknown (1930s). Active (unofficial); focal plane about 23 m (75 ft); continuous (?) white light. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) round stone (?) tower, unpainted, with vertical fluting, lantern, and gallery. Naresh Singhal has a 2010 photo, and Google has a satellite view. This frequently-photographed lighthouse is on the "King's Tea Island" in front of the Montazah Palace at the eastern end of Alexandria. The lighthouse was built by King Farouk I, apparently in the late 1930s. It does not appear that this lighthouse was ever an official aid to navigation, but Maged Samaan has a photo showing it in action. Site open, tower closed.
[Jazirat Disuqi (Nelson Island)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) steel post mounted on a concrete base. Upper half of the post painted red, lower half white. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island off Abu Qir, about 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Alexandria harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6168; NGA 21328.

Kafr el-Sheikh Governate Lighthouses
* Ra'shid (Ra'schid, Rosetta) (3)
1991 (station established 1870). Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower, with a white daymark. Keeper's house. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Due to rapid erosion, the original lighthouse had to be replaced in 1967. Continued erosion forced another replacement in 1991. The new light station has been relocated well away from danger of erosion: it is 1.9 km (1.2 mi) from the beach and 9 km (4.5 mi) east southeast of the current Rosetta Mouth of the Nile. Accessible by road. Site probably open, tower closed. ARLHS EGY-037; Admiralty E6166; NGA 21324.
* Borolus (Burullus) (1)
1870. Inactive since 1992. 39 m (128 ft) (?) cast iron tripod skeletal tower, with lantern and gallery. Large 1-story keeper's quarters complex. Hamid Abu-Zeid's photo is at right, and Google has a good satellite view. This lighthouse and its sibling at Ra's Gharib on the Gulf of Suez (see above) are two of four lighthouses ordered from France by Ismail Pasha in connection with the opening of the Suez Canal. According to EAFMS, the Damietta lighthouse was "renewed" in 1992 and a new lighthouse was constructed at Borolus. Accessible by road. Site probably open, tower closed. ARLHS EGY-009.
* Borolus (Burullus) (2)
1992 (station established 1870). Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 39 m (128 ft) (?) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. The lantern is painted white, and the upper 2/5 of the tower carries a rectangular vertically slatted daymark also painted white. A good photo is available, Hamid Abu-Zeid's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located about 150 m (500 ft) southwest of the historic lighthouse. The light marks the extreme northern end of the Nile Delta, about 6 km (4 mi) north of Baltim and on the west side of the town of Burullus. Accessible by road. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty E6162; NGA 21320.

Dumyat (Damietta) Governate Lighthouses
Note: In its modern form the Nile Delta is bounded by the two main branches of the river, the Dumyat or Damietta Branch on the east and the Ra'shid or Rosetta Branch on the west. Dumyat (Damietta) is a large commercial seaport at the mouth of the Damietta Branch (Masaab Dumyat), which has been improved for navigation by large ships. The Rosetta Branch (Masaab Ra'shid) is navigable only for small craft.
* Damietta (Dumyat) West Breakwater (Ra's el Bar) (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); green flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) octagonal tower with lantern and gallery. The tower appears to be white concrete; lantern painted green with a metallic gray dome. Tarek Art has a 2007 photo, Mohammed el-Shikh has a 2009 closeup, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is part of the recent development of Damietta as an important port of entry. Located at the end of the west breakwater at the entrance to the Damietta Branch of the Nile. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty E6158; NGA 21312.
Burullus Lights
New and Old Burullus Lights, Burullus, August 2007
Panoramio photo copyright Hamid Abu-Zeid; permission requested
Damietta East Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 12 m (39 ft); light characteristic unknown. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round concrete tower with gallery, painted red. Fadi Hallisso has a photo, M. Lawindy also has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the east breakwater at the entrance to the Damietta Branch of the Nile. Site probably open, tower closed.
Damietta (Dumyat) (2)
1992 (station established 1870). Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); two white flashes every 30 s. 39 m (128 ft) (?) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, the upper portion carrying a white daymark. Keeper's house. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. According to EAFMS, the Damietta lighthouse was "renewed" in 1992 and a new lighthouse was constructed at Borolus. The original lighthouse seems to have been replaced and demolished since that time. Located on the east side of the entrance. Site status unknown. ARLHS EGY-011; Admiralty E6156; NGA 21308.

Bur Sa'id (Port Sa'id) Governate Lighthouses
Note: The French built the city of Port Sa'id as the northern terminus of the Suez Canal; they named it for the ruler, Sa'id Pasha, who had granted them the right to build the waterway.
* Port Sa'id (3)
1997. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 39 m (128 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. The lantern is painted white, and the upper 2/5 of the tower carries a rectangular vertically slatted daymark also painted white. A 2010 photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse is a sibling of the 1992 Borolus lighthouse seen above. Located about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) west of the entrance to the canal, across the street from the Port Sa'id Stadium. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse is easily seen from anywhere in the neighborhood. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. ARLHS EGY-036; Admiralty E5978.2; NGA 21276.
* Port Sa'id (2)
1869 (station established 1860). Inactive since 1997(?). 59 m (194 ft) octagonal reinforced concrete, brick-faced tower with lantern and gallery, attached to 2-story keeper's house. The north (seaward) side of the tower is painted with a black and white checkerboard pattern; the rest of the tower is unpainted yellow brick; lantern painted white. Michael Tyler's photo is at the top of this page, Wikimedia has several photos, Emadas Foury has a 2007 photo, Huelse has a historic postcard image, and Bing has a satellite view. Forand has an older postcard view, made before the checkerboard daymark was added. This lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Africa, marked the northern entrance to the Suez Canal. It was designed by François Coignet, and is based on the Phare des Baleines on the Île de Ré on France's Charente coast. It was one of the first large lighthouses to be built using the relatively new technology of reinforced concrete. The checkerboard daymark pattern was applied in 1926. The first lighthouse was an octagonal wood skeletal tower; the Virtual Museum of Architecture has an exhibit with plans of both lighthouses. Located in downtown Port Sa'id, on the west side of the entrance to the canal. Site open, tower status unknown. ARLHS EGY-016; Admiralty E5978.
Port Sa'id Entrance Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); continuous red light. 40 m (131 ft) square skeletal tower. The top of the tower carries a triangular daymark, point up; there is also a a large rectangular daymark on the upper part of the tower. Trabas has a photo by Douglas Cameron (also seen at right), and Bing has a satellite view. Located in a crowded dockyard on the west side of the canal, about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) south of the entrance. Site status unknown. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. ARLHS EGY-035; Admiralty E5980; NGA 21284.
* Port Sa'id Entrance Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); red light occulting twice every 10 s. 54 m (177 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower. The top of the tower carries a circular daymark; there is also a a large rectangular daymark on the middle part of the tower. Trabas has a photo by Douglas Cameron, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on Al Kaboti Street in a warehouse district, 1.1 km (0.7 mi) southwest of the front light. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. ARLHS EGY-036; Admiralty E5980.1; NGA 21288.
Port Sa'id Entrance Range Lights
Port Sa'id Entrance Range Lights, Port Sa'id
photo copyright Douglas Cameron; used by permission
Port Sa'id East Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 38 m (128 ft); red light occulting once every 6 s. Approx. 28 m (92 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, lower section enclosed, mounted on a square concrete base. Lighthouse painted red. A concrete harbor control tower (no longer used) is adjacent to the lighthouse. Jürgen Klinksiek has contributed a photo, Trabas has a good photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of the east breakwater at the Suez Canal entrance. Site and tower closed. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. Admiralty E5979; NGA 113-21292.
El Bahar Tower
2008. Active; focal plane 42 m (38 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 42 m (138 ft) skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available. Described by the Suez Canal Authority as a "guidance light," this tower stands between the approach channels to the original Canal (western) entrance and the Bypass (eastern) entrance, about 6 km (3.6 mi) offshore. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty E5978.6; NGA 113-21292.5.
Port Sa'id Bypass West
1980s. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two green flashes every 10 s. 40 m (131 ft) square communications tower; the navigation light is shown about 2/3 of the way up the tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Completed in 1980, the Port Sa'id Bypass allows ships to bypass the Port Sa'd harbor area. Located on the west side of the bypass opposite the Bypass East light. Site status unknown. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. Admiralty E5985.2; NGA 113-21304.
Port Sa'id Bypass East
1980s. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two red flashes every 10 s. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. No photo available, but Google has a good satellite view. Built in the early 1980s, the Port Sa'id Bypass is an alternate northern entrance to the Suez Canal, located east of the original canal and allowing ships to bypass the crowded dock areas of Port Sa'id. This light is on the east side of the bypass about 800 m (1/2mi) south of the entrance, marking a point where the waterway narrows sharply. Operator: Suez Canal Authority. Site status unknown. Admiralty E5985; NGA 113-21300.

North Sinai Governate Lighthouse
Arish (El Arish)
1997. Active; focal plane 39 m (138 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) concrete tower with lantern and double gallery, painted with black and white horizontal bands. Azat Fahmy's photo is at right, and Google has a good satellite view. Located at the foot of the east breakwater on the waterfront of El Arish, a town on the northern shore of the Sinai Peninsula about 50 km (30 mi) west of the Gaza Strip border. Site status unknown. ARLHS EGY-034; Admiralty E5973; NGA 113-21274.
El Arish Light
El Arish Light, El Arish, April 2006
Panoramio photo copyright Azat Fahmy; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Israel | South: Egypt Red Sea | West: Libya

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted July 25, 2006. Checked and revised December 1, 2013. Lighthouses: 28. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.