During their travels, ancient navigators navigated at night among the endless sea by the stars. But the most important and desired landmark in the dark was the light signals from the shore. In the old days, people lit huge bonfires that helped sailors avoid shoals and underwater reefs. There are references to the oldest prototypes of lighthouses on the Black Sea. A 2nd century coin found in the Apollonia region (Sozopol) confirms this. The coin depicts a circular building with 2 floors topped with flames. A lighthouse is a tower-type structure with a range of fire greater than 10 miles.
Lighthouses in Bulgaria, history
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Most of the lighthouses were built in the 19th century, when Bulgaria was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire. In 1855, the Frenchman Blaise Michel signed an agreement with the Turkish government for the construction and maintenance of lighthouses. This is how the lighthouses near Cape Shabla, Cape Kaliakra, Varna, Cape Emine (Obzor), and the islands of St. Anastasia and St. John lit up. The Shabla Cape lighthouse is the oldest and highest on the Bulgarian coast, it was in operation even in ancient times.
The modern lighthouse at Cape Shabla was built in 1768 and was renovated in 1857. The light signals of the lighthouse are emitted from the most eastern point of Bulgaria. This lighthouse is also called “sandy” because it helps ships not to run aground between Cape Shabla and the village of Tyulenovo. The height of the lighthouse tower is 32 meters. It sends light 17 nautical miles every 25 seconds. A stamp was issued for the 160th anniversary of the opening of the Cape Shabla lighthouse. The author of the brand is Todor Vardzhiev (Bulgarian artist and graphic designer).
There is also a lighthouse on the territory of the port of Burgas. It was the first Bulgarian port lighthouse, which was lit at the end of the 19th century. According to legend, the author of the layout of the lighthouse is the Burgas smuggler Sybi Denev. Now the lighthouse is carefully guarded and you can see it from the central beach of the city and from the bridge.
Not far from Burgas there is a lighthouse on the island of St. Anastasia, built in 1889.
It was installed on an iron pillar, towering 40 meters above sea level and its light in good weather was visible at a distance of 10 nautical miles. In 1912, a new lighthouse was laid in the northern part of the island, which is still in operation. It was first lit in 1914. This lighthouse is the brightest in Bulgaria. In 2011, the film “The Island” by the director from Burgas Kamen Kalev was released, in which the French model and actress Letizia Casta played the main role. Filming took place on this picturesque island.
In ancient Nessebar there is also a lighthouse, built in 1932, with a height of 5 meters. Now the lighthouse is inactive, but it has become a favorite place for guests of the city to take a photo as a souvenir.
For thousands of years, lighthouses have shown the way to their native shores, protect sailors from the dangers of coastal waters, and give hope for salvation. Lighthouses are still an integral part of the maritime navigation system.