A 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.
Underneath the column, steps lead down to the ruins of the great temple of Serapis, the hybrid Greek and Egyptian 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.