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The Kõpu Lighthouse one of the oldest lighthouses in the world

Marija Georgievska

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 is built at the top of the highest hillock of Hiiumaa island. Photo Credit

The lighthouse is built at the top of the highest hillock of Hiiumaa island. Photo Credit

 

The Estonian Maritime Administration still classifies it as an active aid to navigation. Photo Credit

The Estonian Maritime Administration still classifies it as an active aid to navigation. Photo Credit

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.

Stairs of the lighthouse. Photo Credit

Stairs of the lighthouse. Photo Credit

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.

Kõpu Lighthouse was previously known under its Swedish name, Upper Dagerort lighthouse.Photo Credit

Kõpu Lighthouse was previously known under its Swedish name, Upper Dagerort lighthouse. Photo Credit

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.

Lantern gallery of the Kõpu lighthouse. Photo Credit

Lantern gallery of the Kõpu lighthouse. Photo Credit

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 tower has been open for tourists since 1999. Photo Credit

The tower has been open for tourists since 1999. Photo Credit

 

A new light system was bought at the 1900 Paris World Fair, for three million gold rubles.Photo Credit

A new light system was bought at the 1900 Paris World Fair, for three million gold rubles. Photo Credit

The lighthouse had been under a lot of reconstructions during the past two centuries.

Like old buildings? Here’s an article from our archives Abandoned: The Largest Medieval palace in Scotland

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.