A lighthouse is a navigation sign in the form of a characteristic tower located on the shore or in the water. Sometimes they also send radio signals (beacons), while in fog they can send sound signals. They can occur on the sea, ocean shore of a sufficiently large inland reservoir ( for example lake) on which navigation is conducted.
The prototype of the lighthouses was the fire that was lit directly on the coastal rocks. Over time, crane-shaped devices called scars began to be used. Lighthouses already existed in antiquity, and the descriptions of the first columns on which the fire was lit date back to 400 BC. The most famous lighthouse was located on the island of Pharos from around 280 B.C. In Poland, the oldest mentions of lighting a fire on the shore (Pot of the Vulcan) date back to around 1070. Often, existing objects were used as a lighthouse, for example in Hel Peninsula the first lighthouse was a fire lit on a church tower.
Each Polish lighthouse is different. They were built by Poles and Germans, of red, sometimes yellow brick. The lighthouses have one or two lights (in some lighthouses you can take a closer look at the methods of sending light signals), they are oval or rectangular - each of them is unique.
If you decide to see all Polish lighthouses, depending on the chosen route variant and the choice of additional attractions along the way, the approximate length of the lighthouse trail route, running through two voivodeships (Pomorskie and Zachodniopomorskie), is from 650 to even 800 kilometers. Due to the fact that the lighthouses on the route are usually located in the vicinity of the most beautiful sea resorts, traveling through it is a great opportunity to visit all corners of the Polish coast.
Kołobrzeg Lighthouse was built in 1947, however, its history dates back to the late 17th century when the first navigation light was set up in the city’s port. The first timber-framed lighthouse was built in 1899 and was soon replaced with more sturdy bricked construction. As such the lighthouse was operational until 1945 when it was blown up by the German military. The lighthouse in its current form was rebuilt just two years later with further redesigns and restoration works. The Kołobrzeg Lighthouse is 26 metres high and its flashing light reaches nearly 30 kilometres into the sea.
It was originally built in 1904 as a chimney for a newly constructed balneotherapy centre and its purpose did not change util 1975. With a major overhaul of the centre’s heating system the old chimney became redundant. However, instead of demolishing the building the officials chose to adapt it and transform it to a 30 metres-high lighthouse. Original equipment allowed for a rather small ray of light reaching only 5 nautical miles and could not be classified as a lighthouse. With new gear the lighthouse’s ray of light reached 17 nautical miles. In 1999 its reach was reduced to 7 NM and it lost the status of a lighthouse, however, it is still referred to as such.
The lighthouse in Świnoujście is one of the largest lighthouses in the world. Its height is almost 65 meters. The lighthouse tower was placed in a two-story building that served as housing for lighthouse keepers and their families. The tower is built of yellow bricks. Initially, the lighthouse had an octagonal cross-section, but the harsh weather conditions in this area and the sea salt made it necessary to renovate it. It was decided to change the shape of the tower to round. The lighthouse was opened to the public on August 5, 2000. Visitors can see, among others, a diving suit weighing 70 kg with 12 kg cylinders each or a light bulb with a power of 4,200 W. Old fishing boats are standing in front of the building. Round stone stairs lead to the observation deck. In clear weather the view from the top gallery is about 45 kilometres (28 mi). Adjacent to the tower is a 2-story brick keeper's house and a museum.
The Lighthouse in Hel is an octagonal tower made of red-brown faced brick, tapering upwards, ending with a gallery under a conical roof, on which one of the Hel radio antennas is located. The lighthouse is 41.5 m high, and its light (and observation deck) located at a height of 39 m can be seen even from a distance of 18 NM (approx. 36 km). The light source is a 1000 W bulb, which in the event of burnout automatically turns by 45 degrees, and in its place a spare bulb is placed. In the years 2001-2002 the lighthouse underwent a major renovation and today it is open to the public in the summer. Next to the lighthouse, visitors can also see two commemorative plaques - one dedicated to Józef Piłsudski, who visited here in 1928, and the other to lighthouse keeper May, who died tragically in 1910 while firing a cannon (used in bad weather). In addition, next to the lighthouse, there is also a lighthouse keeper's house with farm buildings and a beacon mast.
The above described lighthouses are just a fraction of all Polish lighthouses. We heartily encourage to visit all of them. If you don’t have so much time to visit all Polish coast buildings of this type it is possible to see miniatures of them in e.g. Niechorze Miniatures Park and Sarbsk Sea Park. ITS Poland group coordinators will also happily help you to prepare sightseeing programs for your group stay in Poland including the most interesting lighthouses and other fascinating sites in their vicinity. Just don’t wait any longer and send us your enquiry!
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska