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Lighthouses are one of the most romanticized structures in the world. Partially because they’re often located in some of the most beautiful, picturesque locations and partially because they have a long and storied history. For centuries, lighthouses have been an important part of maritime navigation, helping to guide ships safely to shore. Today, there are more than 60,000 lighthouses on coastlines around the globe.
While their primary purpose may no longer be to guide ships (thanks GPS!), many lighthouses have been preserved as historical landmarks and tourist attractions. If you’re looking for a unique travel destination or simply want to learn more about these fascinating structures, here are 20 interesting facts about lighthouses from around the world:
- The first recorded lighthouse was built by Pharaoh Ramses III in Egypt around 1160 BC. Called “The Lighthouse of Alexandria” (aka Pharos of Alexandria), it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and stood approximately 400 feet tall!
- The oldest surviving lighthouse in Europe is Tower of Hercules – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which was built circa 2nd century AD near A Coruña, Spain.
- Boston Light is not only America’s oldest lighthouse still standing today (it was first lit in 1716), but it’s also home to America’s first female keeper, Hannah Thomas.
- There are two “lighthouse cities” in China: Beidaihe & Zhoushan Island. Beidaihe has over 30 lighthouses while Zhoushan has 22 – making them home to more lighthouses than any other place on earth!
- Built atop Eddystone Rocks off Plymouth Sound in England, Eddystone Lighthouse is widely considered one British engineering feat. It marks dangerous reefs that have claimed many lives and shipwrecks over its long history , including RMS Titanic.
- In addition to being home to North America’s tallest lighthouse, Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site near St John's, Newfoundland is also considered Canada's "most easterly point".
- Although Hartland Point Lighthouse in Devon, England looks like your typical brick-and-mortar structure from land - once you get out on water level you'll notice that its base actually consists entirely of interlocking timber blocks.
- Scotland' s Isle Of May is home not just 1 but 5 different working lighthouses!
- Located at Punta San Juan on Ecuador' s Pacific Coast - Punto de la Mitad del Mundo ("Middle Of The World") Lighthouse stands exactly on 0°0'0" latitude & features 2 different hemispheres.
- On September 8th 1838: during a severe storm with hurricane force winds - almost half of France's Cordouan Lighthouse toppled into the ocean below.
- In order take advantage of natural volcanic processes: Japan's Iwo Jima Volcano Erupting lava flows were used to build up Iwojima Sugiura Saki.
- First erected in 1693 then destroyed by an earthquake in 1703: Taiwan's Fengguo Chengliao became Asia's tallest stone tower when it reopened in 1722.
- As new technology made them increasingly obsolete beginning in the 20th century: hundreds and even thousands of today's remaining Lighthouses have been converted into museums.
- The last manned lighthouse was automated as recently as 1998.
- You can stay overnight at several dozen working US lighthouse facilities through the nonprofit organization Light House Interpreters Incorporated.
- One such location is Maine's Marshall Point Light which boasts a mile-long nature trail leading right up to its front door.
- Or for those interested in something truly remote checkout Alaska's Elson Lagoon Cabins where you can enjoy fishing boating or just soaking up views of the tower from your cabin window.
- While they may no longer perform their original function these days, many modern lighthouses will still offer public tours.
- And finally for those who prefer their views a bit less crowded there's always Pigeon Point Light Station State Park where visitors can camp right next to the tower itself.
- And finally finally, book a lighthouse for your next holiday and have an unforgettably experience!