Beyond being symbols of hope and safety, more than 1,297 documented lighthouses around Greece stand as testimony of the countries notable position in world naval history. Now, visitors have a chance to admire 30 of these incredible structures – ordinarily closed to the public – thanks to the initiative of the Greek Navy on the occasion of the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW). Apart from being able to admire the architectural artistry from within, visitors will also be able to take part in guided tours, workshops, discussions and other events aimed at increasing awareness of the important role that lighthouses have played in Greek maritime history.
These solitary figures dot steep cliffs and inaccessible capes and rocky islets to provide ships with valuable assistance as they navigate their course through choppy waters. Unfortunately, however, the conservation costs of these structures runs up to 1.5 million euros per annum for the Hellenic Navy Hydrographic service that can only repair very few at a time thanks to the economic crisis. Even the ‘adoption’ program a few years ago did not help save the exquisite structures that are slowly dimming their lights and becoming obsolete.
The select number of lighthouses that are opening their doors on Sunday hope to raise awareness of the importance of these structures and other nautical aids in navigation, as well as the contribution made by lighthouse-keepers.
Opening hours are from 10:00 to 19:00 at the following lighthouses:
1. Aghios Nikolaos, Kea
Built on the ruins of the temple of Poseidon, the lighthouse is one of the oldest in Greece that was constructed by the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses in 1831. The remarkable architectural structure includes an 8-metre tall tower and a focal plane of 32 meters. Standing at the edge of Vourkari Port, it has contributed to the safety of navigation in the area and is a reference point for sailors and residents of the island. It is one of the two first entries to the Greek Lighthouses Network.
2. Akrotiri, Santorini
Constructed in 1892 by a French trading company, it stands on the southern peninsula of Santorini. Initially the conspicuous square-shaped towered lighthouse was operated using petrol fuel but has been running on electricity since 1988. The lighthouse is ideal to visit during sunset as it offers a panoramic view of the Caldera.
3. Arkitsa, Fthiotida
Arkitsa, on the coastline of the Evian Gulf, is home to a lighthouse built in 1908 just opposite the springs of Edipsos. Its tower stands at 15 metres whereas it sits on a focal plane of 17 meters. Access is by road through the picturesque village.
4. Avlida, Boeotia
The French Company of Lighthouses constructed the lighthouse that lies on the beach road of Faros Village on the Gulf of Evia in 1880. Its tower stands at 9 meters and it has a focal plane of 10 meters.
5. Vasilina, Evia
Located on the north side of Evia after Kavos village, the Vasilina lighthouse is named after a settlement located near the cape. Built in 1892, it is eight metres tall and has a focal plane of 10 meters.
6. Vrysaki, Lavrio
The lighthouse, built in 1892, is 5km north of Lavrio in Attika. It is 7 metres tall and has a focal plane of 23 metres.
7. Gerogombos, Kefalonia
The lighthouse on the Ionian island of Kefalonia was blown up by the Germans during their withdrawal from Greece in 1945. Restored and turned into an automatic, eletrically-powered lighthouse from 1990 onwards.
8. Gouroni, Skopelos
Built in 1889 at Gourouni cape, the lighthouse dominates the slope with its 14-metre tall stone tower that reaches 17.8 meters with the light cabin that holds it while its focal plane is at 70 metres. Initially operated by petroleum, it was turned off during World War II and then re-operated in 1944. Modernized in 1984, it now is electrically-powered. Three white flashes appear every 30 seconds.
9. Drepano, Achaia
Like others around Greece, the lighthouse that is located 12km away from Patra was built in 1880 was destroyed by the Germans during World War II, however it opened again in 1945 after being repaired by the Greek navy. It stands at 9.6 metres tall and has an 8.5-metre focal plane.
10. Drepano, Chania
Constructed in 1864, the octagon-shaped lighthouse was built by the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses and has a tower that stands at 7 metres with a focal plane at 60 metres. Besides the lighthouse there is a stone house at the north side of Crete, at the east of Souda Bay at Cape Drepano, at 50 metres above the sea. The lighthouse was added to the Greek Lighthouses Network at the end of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, however the Germans destroyed it during World War II before it was rebuilt in 1948.
11. Cassandra, Halkidiki
The French Company of Lighthouses manufactured this structure in 1864. It has a 14.5-metre tall tower and a focal plane at 23 metres. The construction was included in the Greek lighthouses network after the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913. It stands four kilometres to the east of the Temple of Poseidon.
12. Katakolo, Ilia
A traditional Greek lighthouse constructed in 1865. It was a stone tower of 9 etres and a focal plane of 45 metres.There is a reflector cabin with a small range at the top and includes a kitchen in a separate building. The machinery and operations work similarly to a pendulum clock. The Ministry of Culture has declared the lighthouse a historical monument, meaning that interventions and constructions in the area are prohibited.
13. Keri, Zakynthos
Where the wild rocks meet the sea, on the edge of a sleep slope that is roughly 200 metres in depth lies the imposing lighthouse that stands as the main characteristic of the Western side of the Ionian island. A place of rich vegetation, the area is an ideal place to admire a sunset.
14. Kranai, Gythio
The white-washed lighthouse is situated on a small islet at the east of Gythio known as Kranai. An octagonal construction made of white marble, it stands at 25 metres height with a focal plane of 78 metres. Initially it worked with petroleum and lit up the region for more than 15 nautical miles, however fell in disuse during World War II before the Greek Navy decided to reconstruct it. Built in 1873, it enjoyed a renovation into a Maritime Museum exhibiting the nautical history of Gythio in 1989.
15. Lakka, Paxi
The square-shaped Lakka lighthouse stands at 10 metres and has a focal plane of 65 metres. The first lighthouse in the region, it was lit in 1825, operating on olive oil. Technical improvements in 1982 saw its lighting machinery replaced before it operated as an automatic solar with a red blink every five minutes, illuminating a radius of 5 nautical miles. Access is from Lakka village on the most northern part of Paxi island, 10km from the island’s capital of Gaios.
16. Megalo Emvolo, Thessaloniki
The lighthouse has stood at the Thermaikos Gulf since 1864. Created by the French company it’s tower stands at 10.5 metres with a focal plane of 32 metres. At the edge of the naval base of Angelohori in Thessaloniki, it collaborates with the lighthouse at the edge of the Thermaikos Gulf. The structure was constructed by German engineers that were commissioned by Ottoman rulers at the time to create the structure. During the German Occupation, it was used by Germans due to its strategic location.
17. Melangavi, Loutraki
Known as the Heraion Lighthouse, from the nearby ancient temple dedicated to the Ancient Greek goddess Hera. The construction is located at the entrance of the Corinthian Gulf that separate it from Alkyonides Bay. It helps ships safely sail through the Gulf of Corinth by directing them to the Corinthian port, or Isthmus. Created in 1897, it was visible from 20 nautical miles away. Rendered out of order during World War II, it was redesigned and reopened to the public in its new electric form in 1982.
18. Plaka, Limnos
The French company of lighthouses was responsible for the structure created in 1908 at the end of the Plakas Cape on Limnos island. It stands at 18 metres tall with the height of the focal plane at 50 metres.
19. Skinari, Zakynthos
Not far from the northerly tip of Zakynthos island near the famous Navaghio (Shipwreck Cove) and Blue Caves, the Skinari lighthouse watches over the crossing between Zakynthos island and Kefalonia. It is a great place to take boat trips to other places around the region at the most affordable prices but also an enchanting area to visit with windmillss and a rare endemic plant that is found in Skinari and nowhere else in the world.
20. Sousaki, Korinthia
Like so many others, this structure was constructed by the French Company of Lighthouses. Built in 1894, it has a tower that is 7.5 metres in height and a 9-metre focal plane. Located on Cape Sousaki, near Aghioi Thodori it is not far frm the Isthmus of Corinth. A landmar in the area, it is one of the two lighthouses guiding ships to the Isthmus.
21. Spathi, Serifos
An imperious landmark structure that has marked the steep cliff of Cape Spathi since 1901, at 65 metres above sea level. The panoramic view, stone finishing around the windows and picturesque cobblestone path leading to the area from the sea makes it one of the most beautiful lighthouses of the Cycladic islands.
22. Psaromita, Fokida
Manufactured in 1894, it became redundant during World War II. The Greek Navy breathed new life into it after reconstructing the lighthouse network in 1945. Standing at 9 metres and a focal plane height of 65 metres it is worth a visit when traveling from Itea to Galaxidi.
23. Kokkinopoulo, Psara
Sometimes known as the Aghios Georgios lighthouse due to the name of the cape where it stands at the east side of Psara island’s shoreline. The name itself – Kokkinopoulos – comes from reddish (kokkino) light it emits when marking the busy passage between Psara (Fisherman’s island) and Chios in the Aegean. Constructed in 1909 by the French Company of Ottomans Lighthouses, it has a tower of 14.5 metres and stands on a focal plane of 78 metres in height.
24. Alexandroupoli, Alexandroupoli
Alexandroupolis lighthouse is a landmark symbol of the city, reminding visitors of the city’s maritime history in the mid-19th century as ships passed through when entering the Bosporus strait or the Mediterranean. It was constructed at around around 1850, by the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses.West of the port, it stands on a cylindrical pedestal at 27 metres and is visible from 24 nautical miles. In 1974 it began to operate with electricity.
25. Tenaro, Lakonia
Cape Tenaro is a mystical place, and the lighthouse that stands there is worth a visit for those interested in history, nature and mysticism. It stands near an oracle where Ancient Greeks communicated with the dead at the Well of Souls, but was also a pirate’s haven and area of interest during World War II. The hike is truly exquisite.
26. Koprena, Arta
Constructed in 1893, the tower stands at 9 metres in height and has a focal plane of 12 metres. At the Koprena village of Arta, it once lit a port that was a major trading hub during the Byzantine era until the start of the 20th century. These days it operates as a museum inaugurated on October 2000. The rooftop offers a splendid view of the Vovos river and the Delta of the Arachthos River.
27. Kaki Kefali, Halkida
The tower stands at 12 metres and the lighthouse’s focal plane is at 21 metres. The structure was built in 1886 on the north side of Chalkida at the Cape of Kaki Kefali (Bad Head).
The lighthouse collaborates with the Megalos Emvolos lighthouse at Angelohori, across from the Gulf of Thermaikos.It was built on the Axios River in 1960, and is at 8 metres with a focal point of 9 metres.
29. Monemvasia, Lakonia
The lighthouse, located at the Castle of Monemvasia, was built in 1896 and stands at 7 metres in height with a focal plane at 17 metres in height.
30. Dana, Poros
The French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses created this structure in 1870. It is 9 metres tall and the height of the focal plane is at 32 metres.