Everything you need to know about lighthouses

Shutterstock.com/ Sergey Nivens

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Lighthouses are beautiful structures that adorn many of the world-s coastlines. They are something people will walk great lengths to see and are often the focal point of a landscape. Some of them are incredibly old, others incredibly beautiful. Yet whatever the attraction, lighthouses appear to catch the eye of people no matter where they are. How often have you been on a hike and said to your friend “oh there is a lighthouse, will we check it out?” In short, lighthouses are great. We wanted to share our lighthouses a little more so we found some amazing lighthouse facts.

Apologies to all hotatsosphobics

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Hotatsosphobia is the fear of lighthouses! We would like to of course apologies to any people who suffer from hotatsosphobia for the contents fo this article and also for the incredibly difficult spelling of their fear. If you do suffer from this condition, please contact us as we would love to write all about you (in a nice way of course).

The first lighthouse

The first lighthouse was called Pharos of Alexandria. It was built in the 3rd century BC and is now recognized as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It no longer stands in place thanks to many earthquakes throughout history but the ruins are still found in Egypt.

The oldest lighthouse

As Pharos is now in ruins it doesn’t win the prize of the oldest lighthouse. That record falls to a lighthouse on the coast of Spain that dates back to the 2nd century AD and is 55 meters tall. It’s great size and the large frame has come to it being called the Tower of Hercules. It is now a commonly visited tourist attraction. 

The oldest beacon

Prior to lighthouses being used it was believed that beacons were in place. These were tall monuments were fires would be lit to warn people of the coastline. The idea is therefore the same as the lighthouse just a different construction. The second oldest lighthouse in the world is found in Ireland. Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford dates back to the 12th Century AD making it the second oldest lighthouse that still stands today. However, it is believed that the site was used as a beacon for many centuries before. The structure at this site is 800 years old and is well worth a visit as it dates from the medieval period. 


Lighthouses were generally considered the best way to warn sailors of land approaching in times before GPS was around. However, there was a time when lightships were being used instead. These ships served roughly the same purpose but could be seen better by ships in the early days as lighthouses were not using lights that could be seen from a great distance. As developments in lighthouses improved the need for lightships disappeared. 

Lighthouse boom

The lighthouse boom took place in the 18th century. It was during this time that all of the lighthouses we see today were likely built. Transatlantic shipping was growing at a fast rate and the safety of sailors and cargo became a huge concern. 

Lighthouses are so isolated that they often contain interesting stories. There is an island off the coast of Finland and Sweden where the border between both countries goes through the island itself. Finland decided the island needed a lighthouse so built one on the high ground. However, it was later discovered that it had been built on Swedish territories. Rather than tear the lighthouse down or sell the lighthouse to Sweden, the two countries altered the country borders to give the land with the lighthouse to Finland! If you are in love with or in fear of lighthouses please leave a comment and explain why.