Pharaoh's Island, Gulf of Aqaba, Egypt (with Map & Photos)

Pharaoh's Island (جزيرة فرعون) is a small rocky area located in the middle of the Gulf of Aqaba. It is located 8 km south of Taba. This place is unique due to its geographical location: from the island you can see Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt.

Pharaoh's Island Egypt
Pharaoh's Island Egypt

Coral Island has had many names including Jezeirat Faraun (Pharaoh's Island) and Isle of Graye. Some believe it was Ezion-geber from the Bible. The island is located 11 km south of Eilat on the continental shelf of Egypt. The waters between the island and the Sinai landmass are a natural anchorage, protecting ships from strong storms in the Gulf. The breakwaters were created with silt from Wadi Jereya.

Pharaoh's Island Egypt
Pharaoh's Island Egypt

Construction


A Muslim fortress has the best position on the island, dominating the northern hill. It was probably built by Saladin in 1170. The two southern hills have Byzantine ruins. Coral Island Harbor was obviously a busy port at one time. This is shown by the large buildings next to the harbor and the slipway now underwater on the northeast edge. Remains of two “dolphins,” (building stones used as piers) are found underwater just outside the harbor. Goods were transported to seawalls in the land mass, from where they could be shipped by land to the north.

Port


The Port is relatively small - 54 X 27 meters. In the past, this small bay became a protected anchorage. Today the bay is blocked from the ocean by breakwaters. David Roberts drew what appears to be a lighthouse in the far south in 1839. Its remains can no longer be seen.

Ezión Donor


A casemate and its nine towers around the perimeter may be from Solomon's time, although some scholars date it to the Byzantine age. Most of the ceramics found at the bottom of the sea are from the final part of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Rothenberg found some ceramics on the island in 1972 dating from Iron Age I (1200-930 BC). The foundations of the tower in the photo to the right are the only architectural evidence that may be from the time of Solomon. The desire to identify this island as Ezion-geber in the biblical period is for lack of a better alternative. Solomon's maritime activity is described in 1 Kings 9 and 2 Chronicles 8. He built a fleet of ships that traveled on three-year expeditions which brought treasures such as gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Pharaoh's Island Egypt
Pharaoh's Island Egypt

Description of the Place


A coral islet in the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba was once converted by the Egyptian king Saladdin into a powerful frontier fortress (Salah el-Din fortress). A citadel was built on the island in the 12th century, which put to flight the crusade of Richard the Lionheart. Today the island is a favorite destination for tourists from all over the world.

There are two reasons to visit Pharaoh's Island. Firstly, these are coral reefs, which are loved by divers and snorkelers. The water here is amazingly turquoise. The local underwater flora and fauna are not inferior in color to the coral reefs of the Red Sea.

Another reason is the fortress itself. Preserved in perfect condition, it is a system of defensive structures - walls and towers that stretch along the entire perimeter of the island. There is a museum on the territory of the citadel. Climbing the tower, you can appreciate all the beauties of the stretched fjord, and look at the visible shores of three countries - Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Pharaoh's Island Map