Their solitary figures rise in places that are significant for navigation and usually inaccessible: on steep capes, at the entrance of the ports, on rocky islets. The lighthouses of the archipelago fascinate the travelers. In fact, on some islands, where the lighthouses are relatively easily accessible by land, many people visit them, following the paths which the lighthouse keepers once walked on… At night the lighthouses give hope and a sense of security to those who circumnavigate the islands as they illuminate the impenetrable darkness.
The Greek network of lighthouses is generally considered one of the largest, densest and more organized in the world, because of the many island groups of our country. The lighthouses at the passages of the Aegean were built mainly from the time of the Greek War of Independence until 1935. The Greek lighthouses began to operate with oil in 1830, they had lighthouse keepers and their light shone over 15 to 25 nautical miles. In World War II, most of the lighthouses of the Aegean were destroyed by the Germans. Thus, out of 400 lighthouses only 28 were still operating at the end of 1944. In the following years a restoration effort began and the lighthouses became electrically powered. Today they fall under the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service of the Navy.
The lighthouses of the Dodecanese and of the East Aegean were built thanks to a French initiative (while the Ionian ones were built through an English initiative). The height and size of the land and of the marine lighthouses of the Aegean vary depending on the position and the importance of the spot where they are located. They are all solid structures, made of stone with a superb design and ergonomic autonomy. They had rooms for the lighthouse keepers and the storage of supplies. On top of the lighthouse tower there was the lantern room containing the lamp and the lens. Solar energy systems were first applied in lighthouses in the ’70s, while some of them had already become automatic, thus making the lighthouse keepers redundant.
The most beautiful lighthouses
Mykonos: the lighthouse Armenistis is one of the few octagonal in Greece.
Santorini: the lighthouse at Akrotiri is considered one of the most beautiful in the Cyclades. It was built by the French Lighthouse company.
Rhodes: the lighthouse at Prasonisi, on the south edge of the island with its simplistic circular tower.
Syros: the lighthouse of Gaidaros on the islet Didymi is the tallest one in Greece.
Kea: there are two lighthouses on the island: one at cape Tamelos, built on the steep rocks between Kea and Kythnos and one at Agios Nikolaos, in Vourkari.
Andros: the lighthouse of the Old Lady (on the way to the Achla beach), the famous Tourlitis, is worth visiting. It is built on a rock in the sea at the exit of the port of the island’s capital and of Fassa at the northwest of the island.
Tinos: all three lighthouses of the island are wonderful. The lighthouse on Dysvato (the islet between Tinos and Andros), the lighthouse of Livada at the Papargyra cape and the one at the port of Panormos, on the islet Planitis.
Serifos: the lighthouse is located at the Spathi cape, in the southern part of the island.
Paros: the lighthouse Korakas, at the edge of the homonymous cape, is close to Naoussa.
Polyaigos: the lighthouse of the small islet with the exotic turquoise waters between Milos and Kimolos first operated in 1898.
Folegandros: the lighthouse of Aspropounta is located on the northwest side of the island.
Furthermore it is worthy to visit:
– the lighthouse in Akradia (Akradies) opposite Milos that is built on an important position for the sailors as there are strong currents in this maritime area. It first operated in 1892.
– the lighthouse of Kandelioussa (Kandilousa) on the homonymous islet southwest of Nisyros, with a tower height of 10m and a very bright white light.
– the lighthouse on the islet of Stroggyli in Kastellorizo, which was built in 1816-18 by the French Company of Ottoman lighthouses. It is a circular and relatively short tower only 9m high.