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The oldest operating lighthouses in the world

Green Point Lighthouse (1824, South Africa)

The oldest operating lighthouse in Africa is located on the northwest tip of the promontory that closes Table Bay, in the Green Point neighborhood of Cape Town, South Africa. Designed by engineer Herman Scutte and built by the British colonial government at the Cape of Good Hope, the Green Point Lighthouse was originally a 7 meter high tower, raised to 16 meters a few years later. Since 1824 it has been in operation continuously helping guide ships through the dangerous waters around the Cape of Good Hope. In addition to its function as a lighthouse, today it is a popular tourist destination in the region thanks to its impressive panoramic views and its museum.

The Bell Rock Lighthouse (1811, Scotland)

Featured by the BBC in its Seven Wonders of the Industrial World documentary, Bell Rock Lighthouse is the second oldest operating offshore lighthouse built. Designed and built by civil engineer Robert Stevenson, its 35 meters rise above the reef that gives it its name, 18 kilometers from the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea, since 1811. The lighthouse is a tower of 35 meter high granite today listed as a protected monument for its historical and architectural importance, being one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland, while still maintaining its original purpose of guiding and warning ships about the presence of the dangerous reef on which it is located.

The Boston Lighthouse (1783, USA)


The Boston Lighthouse is the second oldest in America. Located on Little Brewster Island in Massachusetts Bay, at the entrance to Boston Harbor, its origins date back to 1716, when it was built by order of the colonial governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Shute. Destroyed by British troops during the American Revolutionary War in 1775, the current 90-foot-high granite tower was built in 1783, and has been in operation for the past 250 years. The lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark of the United States in 1964, and is the only one remaining in the North American country operated by the Coast Guard.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse (1764, USA)

Key to the safety of navigation at the entrance to New York Harbor and Long Island Sound, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest in America. Built by shipbuilder Isaac Conro in 1764 following the order of the colonial governor of New Jersey, William Franklin, son of the famous scientist and politician Benjamin Franklin, its conical brick tower rises 30 meters above the ground. The lighthouse has undergone restoration and conservation over the years to maintain its historic structure. In 1964 it was named a National Historic Landmark and in 1966 included in the National Register of Historic Places of the United States.

The Signal Tower of Portopí (1748, Spain)

The Portopí Lighthouse or Portopí Signal Tower, also known as the San Carlos Lighthouse, is the second oldest continuously operating lighthouse in Spain and one of the oldest in the world. Located in the bay of Palma de Mallorca, its original tower was built in the year 1300 during the reign of James II. Its current structure dates back to the 18th century, specifically from 1748, when important renovations were carried out and the tower was rebuilt. Today it is an important navigational landmark in the area, as well as a notable historical and cultural site that attracts visitors interested in its fascinating history and the stunning views it offers from its seaside location.

The Cordouan lighthouse (1611, France)

The Cordouan Lighthouse is a lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of France located 7 kilometers offshore from the Gironde estuary, at the mouth of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. The lighthouse was built between 1584 and 1611, not only as a utilitarian lighthouse but as a grandiose monument, earning it the nickname Versailles of the sea. The Cordouan lighthouse is the oldest active lighthouse in France and the oldest in the world built offshore. It was declared a historical monument in 1862, at the same time as the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

The lantern of Genoa (1543, Italy)

Although an old lighthouse existed in its place since the 12th century, the current Lantern of Genoa has been in operation since 1543. This 77-meter-high stone lighthouse, in addition to being the oldest, is one of the most famous in Italy. Visitors can climb the tower to enjoy stunning views of the city and sea and enjoy a small museum inside that offers information on the history of the lighthouse and maritime navigation in the region.

The Kõpu Lighthouse (1531, Estonia)

The Kõpu lighthouse is one of the best-known symbols and one of the most touristic places from the island of Hiiumaa in Estonia. In use since its completion in 1531, it is the third oldest operating lighthouse in the world and the oldest in the Baltic. Built on top of a hill on the island of Hiiumaa, the 36-meter-high lighthouse rests on impressive buttresses that mark the four cardinal directions.

Hook Lighthouse (1240, Ireland)

Hook Lighthouse, located in County Wexford, Ireland, is the second of the world’s oldest lighthouses still in operation. Built in the 12th century on the Hook Peninsula, the 36-metre-high stone lighthouse marks the entrance to Waterford Harbour. Thanks to its privileged location, Hook Lighthouse has played a crucial role in the maritime security of the Irish coast for the last 800 years.

The Tower of Hercules (1st century, Spain)

A Spanish National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009, the Farum Brigantium is the oldest lighthouse in use in the world, having been built by the Romans in the 1st century. Located in the Galician city of A Coruña, The 55 meters high of this lighthouse have been subject to different transformations and all kinds of vicissitudes during its almost 2,000 years of history.

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