— [Alexandria Serapeum] —
Pompey's Pillar is one of the most famous glories of Alexandria. It has been estimated that this pillar was in the middle of a portico containing some 400 columns. The Arabs called it "Amoud el-Sawari", Column of the Horsemen. The Pillar is the tallest ancient monument in Alexandria.
This column has been admired by all throughout history for its grand scale. A number of stories were related to it. One such story claims 22 people had lunch on its capital!
Another favorite story has Kings Louis the XIV and XV of France wanting to move the pillar to Paris as it was one of the greatest and oldest monuments of history. A move to Paris would enable them to construct statues of themselves on its top.
Concerning the dimensions of the pillar, it is a huge column of red granite, the shaft of the column is from one piece being 20.75m with a diameter at the base of 2.75m, and the capital 2.30m. The total height including the base and the capital 26.85m.
It was constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletain [sic
], Originally from the temple of Serapis, it was once a magnificent structure rivaling the Soma and the Caesareum. Nearby are subterranean galleries where sacred Apis bulls are buried, and two sphinxes.
On the west side, an inscription in Greek consists of four lines which say "To the most just; Emperor Tutelary of Alexandria, Diocletian the Invincible. Posthumously, the prefect of Egypt has erected this monument."
This column was wrongly called by the Crusaders "Pompey's Pillar" because they believed that the ashes of Pompey (the Roman General who escaped to Egypt from Julius Caesar and was killed by the Egyptians) were put in a pot on the capital of the column.
In fact, the pillar was raised in honor of Diocletain[sic
] at the very end of the 4th century.
It is believed that a serious revolution had broken out in Alexandria. Diocletain[sic
] ordered the city to be besieged after eight months of resistance. There was a great famine, and the emperor then ordered that a portion of the corn tribute [? annually sent from Egypt to Rome] should be divided among the citizens of Alexandria - for which the prefect in gratitude set up this column.