The lighthouse was the only ancient wonder that had a practical use, serving as a beacon for ships in the dangerous waters off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, now called El Iskandarîya.
Constructed on the small island of Pharos between 285 and 247 B.C., the building was the world's tallest for many centuries. Its estimated height was 384 feet (117 meters)—equivalent to a modern 40-story building—though some people believe it was significantly taller.
The lighthouse was operated using fire at night and polished bronze mirrors that reflected the sun during the day. It's said the light could be seen for more than 35 miles (50 kilometers) out to sea.
The huge structure towered over the Mediterranean coast for more than 1,500 years before being seriously damaged by earthquakes in A.D. 1303 and 1323.