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Lighthouses

First stone lighthouse lit by only 24 candles

The first documented lighthouse was the Lighthouse of Alexandria, built in 200 BC on the island of Pharos by the Egyptian Emperor Ptolemy. Considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is thought to have been 150 metres (492 ft) high – about three times taller than modern lighthouses.

Romans emperors built many lighthouses to assist their navigators. In 90 AD, Emperor Caligula ordered a light house at Dover, England. It is the oldest lighthouse in England and still stands in the Dover Castle grounds. The world’s tallest brick lighthouse, the Lanterna at Genoa, was built in 1543. It still stands proud at 75m (246 ft) tall.

The world’s first stone lighthouse was the Smeaton Eddystone (pictured right), built just south of Plymouth, England in 1756 by John Smeaton, the “Father of Civil Engineering.” It was lit with only 24 candles. The Eddystone lasted 47 years until it was floored by fire. It was then dismantled and built on a neighbouring rock.

Today, lighthouse lights are the equivalent of 20 million candles, lit by high pressure xenon lamps.

The tallest lighthouse in the world is a steel tower at Yamashita Park, Yokohama. It stands 106 m (348 ft) high.