World’s Tallest Lighthouses

Tuesday, 15th May 2012 by

For centuries lighthouses have served as navigation aids, helping protect marine traffic from running aground on dangerous coastlines, rocks and reefs. As we’re ever-so-slightly fond of superlatives here at Google Sightseeing, we’ll take a tour of the tallest lighthouses around the world1.

Top ten tallest lighthouses

The world’s tallest lighthouse is the 133m (436 ft) Jeddah Light in Saudi Arabia, which doubles as the control tower for this busy commercial port. The white tower and dome can be seen from about 40km away, and it’s a vital marker on this coastline which is dotted with dangerous coral reefs.

The second-tallest lighthouse is technically a monument rather than a true navigational aid, and is unfortunately (for us) located on an island in Lake Erie which is only covered by low-resolution satellite imagery. The 107m (351 ft) tall granite tower has the somewhat unwieldy title of “Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial”, and it commemorates a US naval victory over Britain in the War of 1812.

Just one metre shorter is the Yokohama Tower which also stretches the true definition of a lighthouse. While it is illuminated, the tower mainly serves as a tourist attraction with an observation deck and restaurant offering views of the city.

From here on we’re looking at more traditional lighthouses, built solely to serve as beacons for shipping. The fourth tallest lighthouse is found on the island of Île Vierge off the north-west coast of France. Built in the late 1800s, this lighthouse (like many around the world) has today been automated, though in this case a lighthouse keeper still lives on site. Despite the hazy image, Street View from the nearest point on the mainland gives us a good idea of how immense it is.

The Lanterna is one of the most famous landmarks in the Italian port of Genoa, and a lighthouse has stood on this spot since the 12th century.

The existing 77m (253 ft) tall structure dates to the 16th century, though it has been repaired many times following damage from lightning strikes and military action. While it’s visible from many parts of the city, it really needs to be seen from up close to be truly appreciated. There’s also a good museum at its base, though you’ll need to find your way past the busy ramps used by trucks going to and from the port.

Back to France for the sixth tallest lighthouse – the Phare de Gatteville. At 75m (246 ft), the granite tower was the tallest in the world when it was constructed in the 1830s.

The recent launch of Street View imagery in Russia gives us a good look at the seventh tallest lighthouse – the Lesnoy Mole Rear Range Light in the commercial port of St Petersburg. The distinctive red and white stripes of this 73m (240 ft) tall structure also identify it as a range light – a marker to help sea traffic approach a narrow channel.

The eighth and ninth tallest are just a few kilometres apart on Hainan island in China. The Mulantou and Baishamen lighthouses are both 72m (236 ft) tall and mark the narrow strait between the island and the mainland.

Finally, the tenth tallest lighthouse in the world is the Storozhenskiy Light on Russia’s Lake Ladoga, but sadly it isn’t visible on satellite view yet.

Tall lighthouses around the world

The tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere is the Recalada a Bahía Blanca Light in Argentina – a 67m (220 ft) tall iron tower allegedly built by the same company that built the Eiffel Tower.

The recently launched Street View imagery in Poland allows us to see the world’s tallest brick lighthouse – the 65m (213 ft) tall Świnoujście Lighthouse.

The tallest traditional lighthouse in the US is the Cape Hatteras Light in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Originally built in the 1860s, the structure was moved inland several hundred metres in 1999 to protect it from shore erosion. This video shows how it was moved.

The UK’s tallest lighthouse sits on a remote rock called Skerryvore off the west coast of Scotland, and isn’t visible on Google Maps, so instead let’s travel to Africa, where the tallest lighthouse is the Nosy Alañaña Light on the tiny Île aux Prunes off Madagascar.

  1. Note that many don’t consider the first three to be real lighthouses, so in many cases the ‘tallest’ listing starts with the fourth on this list.