Oldest Lighthouses in Europe

Surrounded by seas all over, Europe as a continent has made perfect use of lighthouses. These oldest lighthouses in Europe still guide people toward safety and to land. They are also essential gateways to medieval Europe, its architecture, and culture.

Tower of Hercules / Spain

The Tower of Hercules in Spain is the oldest lighthouse in the world that still remains in its original form. Its construction dates back to the 1st century and the Romans. Moreover, its design was similar to the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt which does not exist now.

tower of hercules one of oldest lighthouses
Stefania Diaz

The reason why the lighthouse is named after Hercules is because of a myth surrounding the island. According to legends, Hercules fought a giant three days and nights and finally beat it. After the victory, he buried the giant and ordered the construction of a city at the site. The lighthouse stands on the top of a skull representing the giant.

tower of hercules statue
Shawn Stone

Lighthouse of Genoa / Italy

In addition to being one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, the Lighthouse of Genoa is the tallest lighthouse in Europe. It is 117 meters tall and also the second tallest in the world. Aside from its importance worldwide, it is the landmark of the city of Genoa.

lighthouse of genoa of oldest lighthouses

The lighthouse has a crown on it through which the light is shone. It was built in 1543 but was heavily damaged by the French in 1684. In the first half of the 20th century, an effort of renovation started. Making sure that the original design was protected, in 1956, the renovations ended and the lighthouse somewhat returned to its former self.

lighthouse of genoa coat of arms

Hook Lighthouse / Ireland

One of the oldest lighthouses that are still operational, Hook Lighthouse is located in the Hook Peninsula, Ireland. The current structure of the lighthouse has been the same for 800 years now. It was built in the 13th century in order to provide ships with safe passage.

hook lighthouse of oldest lighthouses
Martin Mc Laughlin

The first keepers of the lighthouse were Christian monks. These monks were living in a monastery located near the lighthouse. So, they constantly went to the tower and lit fires to guide the ships and warn them about the rocks of the peninsula. Until 1996 when it turned automatic, the lighthouse had lightkeepers manually operating the light.

hook lighthouse and the cliff
Tony Kennedy

Kopu Lighthouse / Estonia

Being in use since 1531, the Kopu Lighthouse is an icon of Estonia. It has a unique shape, a square prism, which makes it stand out among other oldest lighthouses in Europe. Moreover, it can be seen from nearly 50 kilometers away and warn ships away from the shoreline.

kopu lighthouse of oldest lighthouses
Eerik Ülevain

The lighthouse is 37 meters tall and 24 meters of it is pure stone. This makes the Kopu a really heavy structure reaching a weight of 12,000 tonnes. Moreover, in medieval times, the Kopu was so hard to operate. It nearly took 1000 cords of wood to light and maintain a fire which eventually led to the partial deforestation of the peninsula.

kopu lighthouse from above
Ardo Pikkar

Cordouan Lighthouse / France

One of the oldest lighthouses and the tenth tallest lighthouse in the world, the Cordouan Lighthouse was built in the late 16th century. It is 67 meters tall and a heritage site deemed by UNESCO because of its Renaissance architectural style.

cordouan lighthouse of oldest lighthouses
Destination Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Furthermore, the lighthouse is not on a cliff or an island but right at the mouth of an estuary. It is in direct contact with the sea and because of it, its original designer made the lower stories strong so that the lighthouse could battle the waves. In the following centuries, more stories and durable materials were added to the lighthouse in order to keep it operational.

cordouan lighthouse and its bridge
Boreal Fly