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The Oldest Working Lighthouse in the World

PortandTerminal.com, August 17, 2020

MADRID – The oldest working lighthouse in the world is the Torre de Hércules, or Tower of Hercules, located in north-western Spain. Built in the second century A.D., the lighthouse is still in use today and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When it was built two thousand years ago, people believed that it was located at the edge of the world. According to myth, it also marks the resting place of one of Hercules’ greatest conquests. 

Map

The Tower of Hercules, which up until the 20th century was called the Farum Brigantium, has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in north-western Spain since the late 1st century A.D. when it was built by the Romans.

Fresnel lens in lighthouse
A Fresnel lens was installed in 1921

The Tower is built on a 187-foot high rock, rises a further 180 feet, of which 112 feet correspond to the original Roman masonry and 69 feet to the restoration directed by architect Eustaquio Giannini in the 18th century, who augmented the Roman core with two octagonal forms.

The original lighthouse had a spiral ramp outside the structure to allow for wood to be carried to the top, which was burned as its signal light. Later, in the 18th century after its reconstruction olive oil fueled the towers lamps.

The light was enhanced by seven reflectors and the eclipse was reached using iron plates moved by a clockwork system.

In 1921 electricity reached the lighthouse, and a Fresnel lens was installed and lighted by an electric bulb.

Today the lighthouse is fully working: its characteristic is four flashes of white light every 20 seconds that can be seen for 23 miles.

Stone lighthouse.
When it was built, sailors believed that the lighthouse stood at the edge of the world.
Stairway in the tower

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