The Egyptian Lighthouse

The Egyptian Lighthouse in the Venetian port of Chania constitutes an absolute jewel of the city and its most photographed monument. Despite the adjective “Egyptian” that is attributed to the Lighthouse, it was built by the Venetians in the late 16th century. Its foundations lie on natural rocks and it was initially operating as an open flame torch. Its height is 21 meters and its light covers a distance of seven miles. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world that have been preserved to this day.

The tower of the Egyptian Lighthouse consists of three parts. The base, which has eight angles, the middle part, which has sixteen angles, and the third part, which is round. When the Venetians constructed the Lighthouse, they used a material of the same origin and quality with the one used for the construction of the fortifications of the city. In case of a threat, the Venetians shut down the entrance of the port, using a chain that was tied to the base of the Egyptian Lighthouse and to the Firka Fortress, that stands right across the lighthouse.

The Egyptian Lighthouse was reconstructed by the Egyptians in the early 19th century, when they ruled Crete and this is when it won the appellation that “accompanied” it through the centuries and acquired one of the most special architectural styles worldwide. Regarding the form and the internal stone-made staircase that leads to the balcony with the glass turret, the Egyptian Lighthouse reminds us of minarets.

In 1864, the French Ottoman Lighthouse Company put the Egyptian Lighthouse under its jurisdiction  and initiated a new type of operation for it – the reflective lighting machine. At the end of the Turkish Occupation, a staircase was constructed at the entrance of the tower, and more precisely on the east side. The perimetric stone made parapet of the base and the outpost with the eight angles and the small dome were later constructed.

The Egyptian lighthouse is “a harbor lantern” and consists only of the lighthouse tower. Any form of residence for a lighthouse keeper is absent, since the Lighthouse stands in a residential area and it was never necessary to supervise its operation by a specialist.

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