Lighthouses of Belgium

Belgium has a North Sea coast about 65 km (40 mi) long, all of it located in the Flemish-speaking province of West Vlaandern (West Flanders). There are four ports on this coast: Nieuwpoort, Oostende, Blankenberge, and Zeebrugge, and each of the four has its own collection of lighthouses. In each case the principal light is to the east of the harbor entrance; this was done to guide ships approaching from the English Channel to the west.

In addition, Belgium has saved all three of its post-World War II lightships.

In Flemish, as in Dutch, the word for a lighthouse is vuurtoren. Maritime services in Belgium have been reorganized and aids to navigation now fall under the Shipping Assistance Division (Scheepvaartbegeleiding) of the Flemish government. However, the lighthouses are probably operated by the respective harbor authorities.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. BE numbers are from the official Belgian Lichtenlijst. Admiralty numbers are from volume B of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA numbers are from Publication 114.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Belgium
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Leuchttürmseiten von Anke und Jens - Belgien
Photos of ten major lighthouses, with notes in English and German.
Les Sentinelles des Mers
Photos and articles by Guy Detienne.
Leuchttürme.net - Belgien
Excellent photos posted by Malte Werning.
Lighthouses in Belgium
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Belgium
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses in Belgium
Aerial photos of several of the lighthouses posted by Marinas.com.
Belgische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lightships in Belgium
The Belgian page of Iris Klempau's comprehensive site on world lightships.

Nieuwpoort Light
Nieuwpoort Light, Nieuwpoort, May 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Daniël Cohen

Nieuwpoort Lighthouses
Westhinder
About 1992 (lightship station established 1885). Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); four white flashes, separated by 4 s, every 30 s. 23 m (75 ft) 4-level steel platform mounted on a cylindrical steel tower; enclosed equipment shelter between the second and third galleries. Fog horn (two short blasts and one long blast every 30 s). Entire structure painted red. Trabas has a photo by Capt. Theo Hinrichs. This modern structure replaced the Westhinder lightships (see near bottom of this page). Located on a notorious shoal just inside Belgian waters about 30 km (19 mi) northwest of Nieuwpoort and a similar distance north of Dunkerque, France. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-039; BE-0028; Admiralty B0145; NGA 9000.
* Nieuwpoort West Mole
Date unknown (station established 1884). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); continuous green light. Approx. 9 m (29 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base; lantern roof painted green. Active fog bell (2 strokes every 10 s) hangs on the side of the tower. Trabas has a closeup photo by Klaus Kern, Werning has a good photo, Google has a distant street view, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the west side of the entrance to the River Ijzer; readily accessible from the Albert I Laan (boulevard) along the oceanfront. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-010; BE-0410; Admiralty B0076; NGA 9012.
* Nieuwpoort East Mole
Date unknown (station established 1884). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); continuous red light. Approx. 9 m (29 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base; lantern roof painted green. Werning's photo is at right, Trabas has a closeup photo by Klaus Potschien, Google has a distant street view, and Bing has a satellite view. Huelse has a postcard view that shows an earlier tower. Located on the east side of the entrance to the River Ijzer; accessible by a short hike and walking the mole. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-009; BE-0412; Admiralty B0075; NGA 9016.
* Nieuwpoort (4)
1949 (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); two red flashes, separated by 2.6 s, every 14 s. 29 m (95 ft) round tapered conical concrete tower with lantern and double gallery, painted with horizontal red and white bands; lantern is white. 2-story keeper's house, unoccupied and boarded up. Daniël Cohen's photo is at the top of this page, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Kern, Werning has a photo, Wikimedia has several photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a postcard view, Google has a distant street view, and Bing has a satellite view. This light is the modern successor to the Vierboet, a 30 m (98 ft) tower built in 1284 in downtown Nieuwpoort. A lantern was added to the Vierboat in 1863, and it survived until it was destroyed in World War I. An 1883 tower on this location met the same fate, and the 1926 replacement was destroyed in September 1944, during World War II. The lens of the 1926 lighthouse was preserved in storage in Paris during the war and is in use in the present lighthouse. Huelse has historic postcard views of the 1883 tower and the 1926 tower. Located about 500 m (0.3 mi) east of the East Mole light; not accessible by road but it is possible to walk to the site. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-004; BE-0414; Admiralty B0074; NGA 9008.
Nieuwpoort East Mole Light
Nieuwpoort East Mole Light, Nieuwpoort
photo copyright Malte Werning; used by permission

Oostende (Ostend) Lighthouses
* Oostende West Pier (2)
2010 (station established 1890). Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); continuous green light. Approx. 9 m (29 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base; lantern roof painted green. Fog bell (stroke every 4 s). Eleanna Melissa has a 2010 photo, a January 2011 photois available, Google has Jonas Vandevelde's street view, and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse was replaced when the Oostende piers were rebuilt in 2009-10, but it seems to have the same lantern. Werning has a fine closeup photo of the original lighthouse, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Kern, and Huelse has a historic postcard view. The new lighthouse resembles the west pier light at Blankenberge (see below). However, a new outer west pier was under construction in 2014, so the future of this lighthouse is not assured. Located on the west side of the entrance to Oostende harbor; accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-012; BE-0436; Admiralty B0094; NGA 9022.
#Oostende East Pier
1890. Deactivated and demolished in 2010. Approx. 9 m (29 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base; lantern roof painted green. Werning has a photo taken shortly before the lighthouse was demolished. Geert Declerck has a view from the sea showing the lighthouse on the original pier. The east pier was removed in 2010 and the former location of the lighthouse is marked by a red buoy seen in Bing's satellite view. Google's August 2014 street view shows this buoy and also a new tower, a triangular white pylon with a red vertical stripe, on the end of the new pier. Presumably this is a new light, but no announcement of it has been found. Formerly located on the east side of the entrance to Oostende harbor. Site open. ARLHS BEL-011; ex-Admiralty B0096; ex-NGA 9024.
* Oostende (4) ("Lange Nelle")
1949 (station established 1771). Active; focal plane 65 m (213 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 58 m (190 ft) two-stage round cylindrical tower with lantern and double gallery rising from the center of a square 1-story building. Lower 1/3 of the tower is octagonal and probably concrete, upper 2/3 circular and probably brick. Lighthouse painted white with two sinusoidal blue bands around the upper section; galleries painted gold. The unusual color pattern was added in 1994. Wim Bladt's photo is at right, Werning has a photo, Trabas also has a good photo, Wikimedia has photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Google has a street view, and Bing has a satellite view. This remarkable lighthouse, nicknamed Lange Nelle (Lanky Nellie), appears pencil-thin compared to its great height. An 1860 tower was destroyed here in World War I, and a 1925 tower was destroyed in World War II. Huelse has historic postcard views of the 1860 tower, a 52 m (171 ft) round stone tower, and the 1925 tower. Located about 500 m (0.3 mi) east of the East Pier light. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-002; BE-0440; Admiralty B0092; NGA 9020.
Oostende Light
Oostende Light (Lange Nelle), Oostende, January 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Wim Bladt

Blankenberge Lighthouses
* Blankenberge West Mole (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1913). Active; focal plane 14 m (45 ft); continuous green light. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base. Trabas has a sunset photo by Klaus Kern, a closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on the west side of the entrance to Blankenberge harbor; accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-006; BE-0458; Admiralty B0113.4; NGA 9052.
* Blankenberge East Mole
1913(?). Active; focal plane 12.5 m (41 ft); continuous red light. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white with a black band at the base. Werning has a good photo, Trabas has a good photo by Klaus Potschien, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. It seems likely that this is the original lighthouse. Located on the east side of the entrance to Blankenberge harbor; accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-005; BE-0460; Admiralty B0114; NGA 9048.
*** Blankenberge (Jetée Comte Jean) (4)
1952 (station established 1817). Active; focal plane 32 m (106 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. 30 m (98 ft) cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery rising from a 2-story brick building. This modern tower has a U-shaped cross section with the curved side facing the sea; it is white, except the lantern and top floor (watch room) are painted black. Marc Ryckaert's photo is at right, Trabas has a closeup photo by Klaus Kern, Wikimedia has several photos, Marc de Kleijn has a photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Huelse also has a historic postcard view of the 1895 lighthouse, a 23 m (75 ft) octagonal stone tower. The building at the base of the lighthouse is a maritime museum. Located at the base of the east pier, known as the Comte Jean jetty, behind the east pier light. Site open, museum and tower open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. Site manager: Zeemuseum Vuurtoren Zeegenootschap. ARLHS BEL-001; BE-0462; Admiralty B0112; NGA 9044.
Blankenberge Light
Blankenberge Light, Blankenberge, September 2014
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Marc Ryckaert

Brugge (Bruges) Lighthouses
Note: The historic city of Brugge (Bruges) is the capital and largest city of West Flanders. Zeebrugge is a former village, now the port district of Brugge.
Zeebrugge West Breakwater (3?)
Date unknown (station established 1905). Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); green light, occulting once every 7 s. 30 m (98 ft) unpainted octagonal concrete tower with gallery topped by a small green lantern and a radar transmitter on a white mast. The tower also carries an array of traffic control lights. Nautophone fog signal (1 blast, a pause, and then 3 blasts, every 90 s). Trabas has a closeup photo, Werning has a more distant view, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the west outer breakwater outside the entrance to Zeebrugge harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS BEL-040; BE-0470; Admiralty B0123.2; NGA 9073.
Zeebrugge East Breakwater (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1905). Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); red light, occulting once every 7 s. 30 m (98 ft) unpainted octagonal concrete tower with gallery topped by a small red lantern. The tower also carries an array of traffic control lights. Fog bell (3 strokes every 25 s). Werning has a photo, Trabas has a closeup photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the east outer breakwater outside the entrance to Zeebrugge harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS BEL-015; BE-0472; Admiralty B0123; NGA 9074.
Zeebrugge Old Mole (Leopold II Dam)
1905. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); continuous white or red light, depending on direction. Approx. 18 m (60 ft) unpainted round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from circular 1-story concrete building. Lantern painted red; lantern roof is greenish metallic. The tower also carries an array of traffic control lights. Werning has an excellent photo, Trabas has a more distant view, Wikimedia has a view from the harbor, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was repaired after being heavily damaged during a British raid on Zeebrugge in April 1918, during World War I. Huelse has a postwar postcard view showing the damage. Located at the end of the Old Mole (now called the Leopold II Dam) on the west side of Zeebrugge harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS BEL-046; BE-0496; Admiralty B0122; NGA 9076.
*** Lightship 2 (West-Hinder II)
1950. Decommissioned 1994. 37.5 m (123 ft) steel lightship; the light was displayed from a lantern atop the mainmast. Hull painted red, superstructure white, mast with red and white horizontal bands, lantern red. Klempau has a page for the lightship, Tim Roosen has a 2007 photo, a 2009 photo is available, and Google has a closeup street view and a satellite view. One of three lightships built by Beliard, Crighton & Co. of Oostende. The ship is dry-berthed as an attraction in a maritime theme park; a souvenir shop occupies part of the vessel. Located out of the water but on the waterfront in Zeebrugge. Site open, theme park and ship open daily (admission fee). Owner/site manager: Seafront Zeebrugge. ARLHS BEL-003.

Zeebrugge Old Mole Light, Zeebrugge
photo copyright Malte Werning; used by permission
* [Zeebrugge Zeesluis (Omookaai)]
1895. Inactive. 3 m (10 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery; the gallery rail in missing. Werning has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This is one of two identical pierhead lights from the former sea lock at the entrance to the Zeebrugge Kanal, known to have been in place before World War I. (No one seems to know if this was the east or the west pierhead light.) Located at the end of the Omookaai not far from the West-Hinder. Site open, tower closed.
* Zeebrugge (Heist) Range Front (2)
1983 (range established 1912). Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white light occulting once every 5 s, synchronized wth the rear light. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) slender round cylindrical tower with gallery but no lantern, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Werning has a photo, Trabas also has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a mole at Heist, on the east side of Zeebrugge harbor. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-013; BE-0540; Admiralty B0124; NGA 9068.
*** Zeebrugge (Heist) Range Front (1)
1912. Inactive since 1983. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) conical round concrete (?) tower with circular lantern and gallery. Structure appears to be unpainted. This lighthouse is located near the current rear range light; the modern front light is 875 m (1/2 mi) northwest. Werning has a closeup photo, Trabas has a good photo of this light and the current rear light, Wikimedia has numerous photos, Google has a closeup street view, and Huelse has a historic postcard view. Located at the foot of Konigslaan in Zeebrugge. Site open, tower reported open (schedule unknown). Owner/site manager: unknown. ARLHS BEL-045.
* Zeebrugge (Heist) Range Rear (2)
1983 (range established 1912). Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); white light occulting once every 5 s, synchronized wth the front light. Approx. 40 m (130 ft) slender round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Werning has a photo, Trabas has a good photo of this light and the old front light, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lighthouse stands just behind the original front range light (previous entry) near the foot of Konigslaan in Zeebrugge. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BEL-014; BE-0542; Admiralty B0124.1; NGA 9072.
* Zeebrugge (Heist) Range Rear (1)
1907. Inactive since 1983. Approx. 24 m (80 ft) round concrete tower rising from an octagonal base and supporting a large octagonal watch room, lantern and gallery. Base and watch room faced partly with red brick. Marc Ryckaert's photo is at right, Werning has a good photo, Wikimedia has numerous photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This handsome and historic lighthouse was reported in poor condition as recently as 1998, but it has since been restored. Located just off the Konigslaan in Zeebrugge, about 250 m (1/4 mi) southeast of the old front light. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: unknown. ARLHS BEL-047.
Heist Range Rear Light
1907 Heist Range Rear Light, Zeebrugge, March 2011
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Marc Ryckaert

Knokke-Heist Lighthouse
* Knokke (replica)
Date unknown (replica of 1872 lighthouse). Inactive. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square cylindrical red brick tower centered on a 1-story red brick building. Wayne Hopkins has a 2010 closeup photo, another closeup is available, Wikimedia has a photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a closeup street view and a good satellite view. The original lighthouse was demolished in the 1950s. The replica was built as the local tourism office. Located on the Lichttorenplein on the waterfront of Knokke, a town on the east side of Zeebrugge. Site open, building open, tower status unknown. ARLHS BEL-044.

Lightship on the Brugge-Gent Canal
** Netherlands Lightship 3 (Mayflower)
1884. Decommissioned 1939. 34.2 m (112 ft) two-masted wooden lightship, stripped of its original fittings. A modern superstructure and faux lantern has been built on the middle of the ship. Hull painted red, superstructure white. A 2009 photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Urbain Ureel rediscovered this vessel and researched its history. The ship's last assignment was as the Haaks from 1925 to 1930. Sold for scrap in 1939, the ship was stripped of its equipment and the hull sold to a youth organization. Incongruously renamed Hollands Glorie (the name of the organization), the ship served as a floating dormitory. Sold again in 1976, the ship was moved first to Oostende and then to Brugge, where it has served since 1978 as a floating bar and restaurant. The current owners added the faux lantern to the top of the superstructure as a reminder of the ship's history. Moored at Bargeweg 13 on the Brugge-Gent Kanal near the Minnewater park in Brugge. Site and vessel open. Owner/site manager: Mayflower Restaurant. ARLHS BEL-048.

Lightships on the Schelde
Note: Alexander Trabas has photos of aids to navigation on the Schelde estuary leading to Antwerpen, but none of them qualify as lighthouses by the Directory's definition.
**** Lightship 3 (West-Hinder III)
1950. Decommissioned 1992. 37.5 m (123 ft) steel lightship; light was displayed from a lantern atop the mainmast. Hull painted red, superstructure white, mast with red and white horizontal bands, lantern red. A photo by Marc Delforge is at right, Sven Cipido has a photo, another 2008 photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. One of three lightships built by Beliard, Crighton & Co. of Oostende; the ships alternated in serving the two lightship stations of Wandelaar and West-Hinder. In 1960 the ship was heavily damaged when it was rammed by the Norwegian tanker Branita. In fact, it sank while being towed to Oostende for repairs, but it was successfully salvaged and returned to duty. In 1995, the lightship was donated to the city of Antwerpen for display at Belgium's national maritime museum, where it remains. In May 2003, Iris Klempau found it to be in poor condition, but there were plans to restore it. Moored at the Bonaparte Dock in downtown Antwerpen. Site open, ship open for tours daily except Mondays (admission fee). Owner/site manager: Museum aan de Stroom. ARLHS BEL-027.
** Lightship 1 (West-Hinder I)
1950. Decommissioned 1972. 37.5 m (123 ft) steel lightship; light was displayed from a lantern atop the mainmast. Hull painted red, superstructure white, mast with red and white horizontal bands, lantern red. Roger Van Buynder has a photo, another photo is available, there's a view from across the river, and Google has a satellite view. One of three lightships built by Beliard, Crighton & Co. of Oostende. The ship was sold in 1976 and used as a floating restaurant, first in Brugge and then in Oostende. It sank at its berth in 1978 but was refloated. Sold for scrap in the late 1980s, it was saved but languished for many years. In 2002 it was towed to a proposed maritime museum in Rupelmonde, on the Scheldt above Antwerpen. In 2012, the original foghorn was returned to the ship. Moored on the Nederstraat in Rupelmonde. Site open, ship open for tours by appointment. Owner/site manager: unknown. ARLHS BEL-026.
West-Hinder III
Lightship Westhinder III, Antwerpen, June 2010
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Marc Delforge

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Nieuwpoort Estacade (?-1911). The light was destroyed by a storm in September 1911.  
  • Vierboet (1284-1914), Nieuwpoort. This 30 m (98 ft) medieval tower was destroyed by Belgian forces at the start of World War I.

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Southern Netherlands | South: France North Coast

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Posted January 4, 2005. Checked and revised November 17, 2014. Lighthouses: 18; lightships: 4. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.