Lighthouses, landmarks built for a purpose, but have captured the imagination of designers, architects and tourists for longer than you would think. One of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World (built in 3rd Century BC) was the Lighthouse of Alexandria in ancient Egypt on the island of Pharos, it is also known as Pharos of Alexandria.
In its time it was one of the largest man-made structures on earth at about 400ft tall. Therein comes the name, whilst in English we say Lighthouse you will find if you ask what the word is in many other languages it will be a variation of pharos, eg Faro in Spanish, Italian. Although long gone, destroyed through earthquakes and time, there are other examples of old but not quite so old beacons that are still in use today. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.
The Tower of Hercules – Spain
Standing in Galicia, North West Spain is an Ancient Roman lighthouse that is still in use today. The original Roman structure dates as far back as the 2nd Century, and it was restored with a neoclassical twist in the 18th Century with extra floors.
Upon venturing inside you can still see much of the Roman work. It has been in constant use since the 2nd Century though so that makes what is thought to be the oldest still working lighthouse in the world.
Hook Head – Ireland
Hook Head Lighthouse is situated on the hook Peninsular, Wexford, Ireland. Built about 800 years ago guarding the entrance to Waterford Harbour it is one of the oldest in the world still in use today.
Originally built to 8m and ran by the monks of The Priory of Saint Augustine. The English Civil War caused the lighthouse to be abandoned until 1665 when it was restored, enlarged to 24m and turned back on.
Sandy Hook – USA
The oldest lighthouse in USA is Sandy Hook standing in New Jersey. Built 1764. A light was needed to guide ships into New York Harbour and was indeed originally called New York Lighthouse.
To still be standing today it has had to endure attempts at destruction especially during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Tupper tried to destroy it to stop the British navigating, the British thus occupied it together with the thus further possibilities of damage. Due to a littoral drift on the coastline the lighthouse is a now one and a half miles inland from the land end.
Main Image: by AlaBlu – Zanone Federico