Lighthouses

A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of light and lenses and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.

Lighthouses mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, safe entries to harbors, and can also assist in aerial navigation. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and replacement by modern electronic navigational systems.

The Suurupi Rear Lighthouse

Coordinates: 59°27.813' N/24°22.818' E
Light sector: white 0° - 360°
Year of construction and reconstruction: 1760; 1951;1998
Light’s range of visibility: 12 miles
Height of the lighthouse from the base: 22 m
Altitude of the light: 68 m
Characteristic of the light: 15 s (1.5+4.5+4.5+4.5)

In 1759, counter-admiral Mordvinov proposed to the Admiralty College to build a lighthouse on the Suurupi Peninsula. The lighthouse began operation in 1760, probably with an open fire. At the end of the 19th century, the dwelling, sauna, oil house, cellar and barn of the light station were completed. The station was surrounded by a high board fence with a limestone base. In the Second World War, the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling was destroyed during the retreat of the German forces. The lighthouse was saved from the worst fate, but required extensive renewal. In 1951, the lighthouse was reconstructed with the height of 22 m and in a slightly different shape. A new generator building was built at the station and the destroyed dwelling was replaced by a new house. In 1998, the lighthouse received a new lantern room and the light equipment was modernized. In 2011, a new LED lighting device was installed on the roof of the lantern room. The height of the light was increased by 2 meters and the light’s directional character was eliminated – now having a 360⁰ visibility.

The Suurupi Front Lighthouse

Coordinates: 59°28.300' N/24°24.993' E
Light sector: white 242.5° - 250.5°

Year of construction and reconstruction: 1859; 1885;1998
Light’s range of visibility: 11 miles
Height of the lighthouse from the base: 15 m
Altitude of the light: 18 m
Characteristic of the light: 3s (1.5+1.5)

19. In the middle of the 19th century, sailors continuously complained about the poor condition of the navigational equipment in the Russian waters. In 1859, a wooden beacon was built in Suurupi, 2245 m from the Rear Lighthouse. Together with the stone Rear Lighthouse, they form a target of 246.5⁰, which facilitates departure from Tallinn Bay from between Naissaar and Vahemadal in a westward direction into the Gulf of Finland. In 1863, the eastern wall was painted white, the sides and the rear wall were painted yellow and the roof red. An overseer’s dwelling, a barn and a well were built near the lighthouse. In 1888, the sheeting was renewed and all sides were painted white. A stone kerosene house was added to the station. In 1911, a new wooden house was built. In 1967, the lighthouse was converted to electric power and synchronized with the upper lighthouse. In 1998, the Suurupi Front Lighthouse was restored. The Suurupi Front Lighthouse is one of a hundred working historical lighthouses of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). The whole complex is under state protection as a cultural heritage.

Suurupi fog siren station and pilot station

During the winter and spring nights, fog often forms in Estonian maritime waters. In case of poor visibility or fog, the seafarers were notified of the danger and aided in navigation by fog signals. Then the crew of the lighthouse started to ring a bell at certain intervals. In later years, a siren was installed. The Suurupi Rear Lighthouse controlled the Front Lighthouse and the Ninamaa siren station, which was on the Ninamaa cape, 1500 m from the Rear Lighthouse, and where a whole complex of a siren and service buildings were built in 1898. Today, the siren building, dwelling, sauna and a tilted mast of the nautophone remain of the siren complex. Every year, the stormy sea gnaws away at the Ninamaa cape and the historic complex faces impending destruction.

Before the Second World War, the building of the former officers’ casino of the coast battery of the Peter the Great's Naval Fortress housed a pilot station, which mainly served the ships visiting the ports of Tallinn. The wharf of the pilot station was situated to the north-east of the Rear Lighthouse; the observation point was at the Rear Lighthouse. 

1918. In 1918, the republic of Estonia inherited from the war coastal waters filled with minefields, of which only narrow shipping routes had been trawled clean of mines. These waters were unnavigable without a pilot. The task of providing pilot services was assigned to Lootside, Tuletornide ja Meremärkide Valitsus (The Department of Pilots, Lighthouses and Marine Aids). After the War of Independence, the operations of most national pilots were terminated and private pilots picked up the work. 1922. In 1922, Suurupi Merelootside Selts (Suurupi Maritime Pilots Society) was established in Tallinn. In 1926, it changed its name to Eesti Lootside Selts (Estonian Pilots Society). 1934. In 1934, the pilots were mainly based at the Suurupi pilot station, which was situated near the former officers’ casino of the coast battery of the Peter the Great's Naval Fortress. The pier was in Rannaküla village, to the north-east of the Rear Lighthouse. A pilot took the ship departing from Tallinn to the Suurupi buoy, where he disembarked. When a ship was headed for Tallinn, it took on the pilot from the pilot station, who would guide the ship to Tallinn. The pilot station operated until 1940.