Kõpu Lighthouse in Estonia on the island of Hiiumaa is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Baltic States and has been in continuous use since 1531.
According to the travel guide “Visit Estonia”, it is the third oldest lighthouse in the world that still functions.
The lighthouse was built at the highest point on Hiiumaa island. It stands 36 meters above the ground and the light is 102.6 meters above sea level, making it the highest coastal light on the Baltic Sea.
It was designed in the shape of a square prism, with massive counter-forts in the direction of the principal divisions of the compass. The tower is 24 m. high and entirely made of stone.
The building materials used for the construction were local limestone and glacial erratic stones. Only the outside layer of the walls is covered with lime mortar.
The body of the tower contains 5, 000 cubic meters of stone, with its total weight reaching 12, 000 tons, built without mortar.
It was constructed when landmarks were necessity to marine coordination in the Hanseatic League. It was the time when the most important east-west shipping lane in the Baltic Sea passed the Hiiu sandbank.
Around 1490, the Hanseatic merchants asked the bishop of Osel-Wiek to let them build a landmark on the Kopu peninsula which was under the legacy of the bishop but their attempts were futile. In 1499, at a meeting of the Hanseatic League, they asked the bishop once more for permission.
In 1500, Bishop Johannes III Orgas agreed to allow a massive stone pillar without any openings.
The lighthouse had been under a lot of reconstructions during the past two centuries.
Today, due to its enduring popularity and memorable shape, it is often used as a symbol of Hiiumaa and it’s a major tourist attraction since 1999 when it was opened for tourists.