Traveling on the seas and oceans has always been unpredictable. When the ship got off course, and his team did not even hope to see the land, suddenly the lights of the lighthouse appeared in the distance.
The first beacons were huge fires that bred on a high bank, and the most famous lighthouse in history is the Alexandria lighthouse – one of the wonders of the world.
Today we will talk about lighthouses – guiding lights for ships.
The first beacons were bonfires, bred on the banks. They Greeks and Phoenicians denoted dangerous passages.
Later, as a source of light used coal, rapeseed oil or kerosene.
At the dawn of navigation, when there were very few lighthouses and they were the most primitive, many ships were sinking to the bottom. It happened that the ships managed to cross the oceans and strong storms, but they died at the entrance to the ports.
The most famous lighthouse is the Alexandria lighthouse – one of the 7 wonders of the world. It was still in the III century BC. in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, so that ships can safely pass the reefs.
Picture of the Alexandria Lighthouse, 1909:
The total height of the majestic structure was 120-140 meters, and its light was visible at a distance of 60 km. More precisely, at night the ships were helped by the reflection of the flames, and in the daytime – the column of smoke. In the 14th century, the lighthouse was completely destroyed by an earthquake, having existed for about 1,600 years.
In some countries, beacons could conceal a danger for seafarers: often pirates lit false lights, directing ships to the rocks for the purpose of robbery.
One of the most important stages in the development of lighthouses was the invention in 1820 of Fresnel lenses , which made it possible to significantly increase the intensity of light – up to 80,000 candles, while the light source was just a burning wick! This is approximately equal to the power of the headlight of a modern car.
Lens Fresnel at the National Maritime Museum in Paris:
In the early 20th century, burners were invented in which oil was fed under pressure, and soon Fresnel lenses could produce up to 1,000,000 candles.
In the 1920s, electric incandescent lamps familiar to everyone became popular. They are now the main means of lighting. In combination with a light bulb of only 250 watts, the Fresnel lens can produce several hundred thousand candles.
Currently, the most powerful lighthouse in the world, located in France, pierces the night sky with a dazzling beam of 500 million candles.
The first lighthouse on the territory of Russia is considered to be the lighthouse of Daguerort (Kyp), built in 1531. In general, the boom in the construction of lighthouses in Russia is associated with the development of the fleet under Peter I.
Lighthouses are divided into large and small, and those, in turn, are
- shore – installed on the shore;
- Sea – beacons installed on ships. They are used far from the shore and at the entrances to the port.
Large lighthouses are high towers.
The first modern sea lighthouse was launched in 1732 at the mouth of the River Thames near London. Although in recent years, sea beacons gave way to automatic buoys.
On large sea (floating) lighthouses, there is usually a crew constantly present. Also, they require large expenses for construction and operation.
If you take the most famous monuments, then the Statue of Liberty in New York from 1886 to 1902 was used as a beacon.
Currently, these romantic buildings – beacons – are a thing of the past. They are replaced by satellite navigation devices, radio beacons and other cheaper and more precise devices.
The profession of “lighthouse keeper” is also a thing of the past, because all processes in these buildings have long been automated.
Many of the lighthouses have become just monuments, but still attract tourists and photographers with their beauty.
In some countries, lighthouses are even protected by the state and represent unique monuments that carry a centuries-old history of navigation.