Lighthouses, historically designed to guide mariners and warn them of dangerous coastlines, have stood as symbols of hope, guidance, and steadfastness. These architectural marvels not only serve a functional purpose but also hold historical and cultural significance. This article explores some of the most famous lighthouses around the world.
Tower of Hercules, Spain
Situated in A Coruña, Galicia, the Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It dates back to the 1st century AD and is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world.
The lighthouse, standing at 55 meters (180 ft), exhibits a rectangular structure. It underwent restoration in the 18th century, blending Roman and neo-classical elements. The tower’s immediate surroundings are a treasure trove of historical artifacts, including old millstones that bear testament to its long and varied history.
Portland Head Light, USA
A Guardian of the Coast
Located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, the Portland Head Light is one of the most iconic and photographed lighthouses in the United States. Commissioned by George Washington and completed in 1791, it has guided ships through Portland Harbour’s entrance for centuries.
The Surrounding Beauty
This lighthouse is a popular tourist destination with its picturesque setting in Fort Williams Park. The adjacent museum in the former keeper’s quarters provides a glimpse into the lighthouse’s history.
Cape of Good Hope Lighthouse, South Africa
Perched Atop the Rugged Cliffs
Standing tall at the southwestern tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope Lighthouse is situated in one of the most famous headlands around the globe. It played a critical role in the age of exploration and served as a waypoint for ships traveling between Europe and the East Indies.
Apart from its historical significance, the lighthouse is known for its panoramic views. From its vantage point, visitors can witness the majestic meeting of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Canada
A Quintessential Maritime Icon
Located in Nova Scotia, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of Canada’s most endearing landmarks. This classic red-and-white lighthouse, established in 1915, stands on the granite shores of the Atlantic and epitomizes the maritime spirit of the region.
A Cultural Symbol
Beyond its navigational purpose, it is a hub of cultural activity and inspiration, having been immortalized in countless photographs, paintings, and literary works.
Jeddah Light, Saudi Arabia
The Tallest Lighthouse
Jeddah Light, situated in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is the tallest lighthouse in the world at 436 feet (133 meters). Unlike traditional lighthouses, Jeddah Light is a “light on a stick” design, serving as both a landmark and a control tower for the city’s port.
A Modern Marvel
Though not steeped in antiquity like others on this list, Jeddah Light is remarkable for its sheer height and modernist approach to lighthouse design.
Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt (Ancient Wonder)
Though no longer standing, the Lighthouse of Alexandria deserves mention as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Constructed in the 3rd century BC on the island of Pharos, it guided ships into the harbor of Alexandria for over a thousand years.
Its design, featuring a three-staged tower with a mirror reflecting sunlight during the day and a fire at night, has inspired countless lighthouses and has etched an indelible mark in history.