Lighthouses of Bulgaria

Bulgaria was founded in 681 and ruled a large part of southeastern Europe for centuries before falling under the rule of the Ottoman Empire around 1400. It became an independent nation again in 1878, but the southeastern part of the country, including the Burgas area, remained nominally in the Empire under the name Eastern Rumelia until 1886.

Bulgaria has about 200 km (125 mi) of coastline facing east on the Black Sea. The principal ports are Burgas in the south and Varna in the north. In recent years the country's Black Sea beaches have become popular vacation destinations for Eastern Europeans, and the coastline has come to be called the Bulgarian Riviera.

The Bulgarian word for a lighthouse is far (фар). Nos (нос) is a cape, and ostrov (остров) is an island. Aids to navigation are maintained by the Hydrographic Service of the Bulgarian Navy.

Since the end of the Communist era (1945-1991), a number of place names that had been changed under Communist rule have reverted to the original forms. The Communist era names are shown in braces {}.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume N of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Lights on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast
A long Bulgarian-language page by Milan Asadurov with small photos and historical information on the major lighthouses.
Lights on the Bulgarian Black Sea
This page has many of Asadurov's photos plus many others.
Lighthouses in Bulgaria
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Bulgaria
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Europäische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Sveti Ivan Light
Sveti Ivan Light, Sozopol
Town of Sozopol photo

Dobrich Province Lighthouses

Note: Dobrich Province is a part of the region known as Southern Dobrudja. Historically part of Bulgaria, Southern Dobrudja was administered by Romania from 1913 to 1940.
Shabla Lighthouses
* Krapets (Kartolia)
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery; lantern removed. Google has a street view, and the tower is visible in G. Kesmev's photo of the cape, but it is not seen in Google's satellite view of the area. A twin of the Kamen Bryag lighthouse. Located on a promontory on the north side of Krapets, about 10 km (6 mi) south of the Romanian border. Site open; probably nothing prevents visitors from climbing the tower. ex-Admiralty E5017.
* Shabla (2)
1856 (Ottoman; station established 1786). Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); three white flashes, in a 2+1 pattern, every 20 s. 32 m (105 ft) octagonal stone tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a large 3-story square stone base; the tower appears to be covered by panels of some kind. Entire lighthouse, including the base, painted with red and white horizontal bands. A 1- and 2-story keeper's house is attached to the base of the lighthouse. This is a staffed station. Plamen Agov's photo is at right, Plamen Stoev has a photo, Denica Barfonchovska has another excellent closeup photo, Danny Rimpl has a nice 2008 photo, Wikimedia has several good photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This is Bulgaria's oldest, tallest, and best known lighthouse. Built by the Ottoman Empire, it stands on the easternmost point of the country. Located about 5 km (3 mi) east of the town of Shabla in the northeastern corner of Bulgaria. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-017; Admiralty N5016, NGA 17660.

Kavarna Lighthouses
* Kamen Bryag
1967. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. A closeup photo is available, Google has a distant street view from the coastal highway, and the shadow of the tower is centered in a Google satellite view. Located on a bluff about 1.5 km (1 mi) northeast of the village of Kamen Bryag. Site open; probably nothing prevents visitors from climbing the tower. ARLHS BUL-008.
* Kaliakra (Nos Kaliakra, Cape Kaliakra) (2)
1901 (station established 1866). Active; focal plane 68 m (223 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the front of a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white. A fine closeup is available, Wikimedia has Spiridon Manoliu's aerial photo, Google has a street view, and Bing has a satellite view. Cape Kaliakra is a razor-thin ridge that points southward into the Black Sea. The cape is a popular tourist attraction, but there is a curious lack of photos of the lighthouse. Located about 20 km (13 mi) south of Shabla and 12 km (7.5 mi) southeast of Kavarna. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-016; Admiralty N5012, NGA 17656.
Shabla Light
Shabla Light, Shabla, July 2008
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Plamen Agov
* [Kavarna Pierhead]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white light, 2.5 s on, 2.5 s off. 10 m (33 ft) steel post with a broad round gallery. Beacon painted white with a black band at the base. A closeup and a view from the beach are available, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view from the beach. Located at the end of the east pier at Kavarna. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty N5011, NGA 17652.

Balchik Lighthouse
* Ekrene (Nos Ekrene)
Date unknown (late 1940s?). Inactive since about 2006. 15 m (49 ft) square cylindrical masonry tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the front of a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white. Two photos, another small photo, and a distant view from the sea are available, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The light was dropped from the 2007 edition of the NGA list. Tourist sites describe the lighthouse as a "famous" attraction, but the lack of closeup photos suggests that it is rarely visited. Located on a bluff about 20 km (13 mi) northeast of Varna. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-005; ex-Admiralty E5009, ex-NGA 17644.

Varna Province Lighthouses

Varna Lighthouses
* Varna Evsinograd (Euxinograd, Yevksinogradski) Mole
About 1923. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); continuous red light. 16 m (52 ft) round concrete tower with a large lantern and octagonal gallery. Lighthouse painted white. Larry Troy has a good photo, another closeup and a distant view are available, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on the north side of Varna Bay about 5 km (3 mi) east northeast of the city's harbor. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-006; Admiralty N5008.5, NGA 17640.
* Varna East Breakwater (Sveti Nikolaos, St. Nicholas) (1)
1903. Inactive since 1986. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern dome painted black. Andrew Levey has a photo, David Collins has a good 2007 photo, and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. This lighthouse, a typical prefabricated French tourelle, has been relocated to the grounds of the Varna Naval Museum at 2 Primorski Road in downtown Varna. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the lighthouse on station. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-032.
* Varna East Breakwater (Sveti Nikolaos, St. Nicholas) (2)
1986 (station established 1903). Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 10 s. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square stone base. Lighthouse painted white, lantern dome red. Peter Kostov's photo is at right, Felix Haller has a photo, another good photo and a view from the sea are available, and Google has a satellite view. Another photo shows a mosaic image of St. Nicholas mounted on the base of the lighthouse. (During the Communist era, this image was replaced by an image of Georgi Dimitrov, the first Communist dictator of Bulgaria, as seen in a 1970 photo.) This lighthouse is a replica of the original, which was moved to a museum setting (next entry). Located at the end of the main breakwater of Varna harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-025; Admiralty N5004, NGA 17628.
* Varna East Breakwater Spur
1903. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 6 m (20 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern roof green. A closeup photo is available, Lightphotos.net has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse is another typical prefabricated French tourelle. Located on a short westward spur off the east (main) breakwater at Varna, marking (with the South Breakwater Light) the entrance to Varna's inner harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-023; Admiralty N5005, NGA 17633.
Varna South Breakwater
1903. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 6 m (20 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery red. Peter Petrov has a photo, a closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is a typical prefabricated French tourelle, identical to the East Breakwater Spur Light. Located at the end of a short pier on the west (mainland) side of Varna's inner harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS BUL-024; Admiralty N5006, NGA 17632.

St. Nicholas Light
St. Nicholas Light, Varna, September 2012
Flickr photo copyright Peter Kostov
used by permission

* Galata (Nos Galata) (2)
1913 (station established 1863). Inactive since 1987. 9 m (30 ft) round cast iron (?) tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Svilen Enev's photo of the cape includes the image at right, Huelse has a historic postcard photo, and both Nos Galata lighthouses can be seen in a Google satellite view. Another photo, no longer online, showed a Fresnel lens in the tower. The light station was damaged by shelling from the Russian cruiser Empress Maria in 1915, during World War I, but it was repaired after the war. Nos Galata is a prominent cape at the south side of the entrance to Varna Bay. Site presumably open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-030.
* Galata (Nos Galata) (3)
1987 (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 76 m (249 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 22m (72 ft) octagonal tower with lantern room, rising from a 1-story administration building. The tower is white with beige vertical stripes. Nautophone fog signal (one short and two long blasts every 30 s). A 2011 closeup and a 2009 closeup are available, and Google has a street view. Svilen Enev's photo of the cape, from which the image at right was taken, shows both lighthouses, and both can be seen in a Google satellite view. Nos Galata is a prominent cape at the south side of the entrance to Varna Bay, about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of the city, and this light serves as the city's landfall light. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-015; Admiralty N5000, NGA 17624.

Avren Lighthouse
* Kamchiya
1932. Inactive. 18 m (56 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower mounted atop a round stone tower. Asadurov has a thumbnail-size photo (a little over halfway down the page), and the shadow of the tower is seen in the center of Google's satellite view. The stone tower is very similar to the original Nesebar Light (see below). Located in a small hilltop village on the north side of the mouth of the Kamchiya River about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of Bliznatsi. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-007; ex-Admiralty E4999.
Nos Galata Light
1913 Nos Galata Light, Varna, July 2007
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Svilen Enev

Byala Lighthouses
Sveti Athanas (Nos Sveti Atanas, Byala)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); red light, 4 s on, 3 s off. 10 m (33 ft) square skeletal tower, partially enclosed by gray screen panels, mounted on a round stone base. The 5 m (17 ft) stone base is apparently the original lighthouse. It was extended by adding a skeletal tower sometime in the 1980s, probably because trees had grown to obscure the light. The lighthouse doesn't show in Google's satellite view, but it can be seen in G. Kesmev's aerial photo of the cape (click on the photo for an enlargement). Located on a hillside above a promontory at Byala (Bjala). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-004; Admiralty N4998, NGA 17616.

Burgas Province Lighthouses

Nesebar Lighthouses
* Emine (Nos Emine, Cape Emine)
1880. Active; focal plane 64 m (210 ft); white light, 1.5 s on, 4.5 s off. 9 m (30 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white; lantern roof painted red. Kiril Stanchev has a 2007 photo, a 2008 photo is available, Evgeni Dinev's distant view at right shows the spectacular setting of the light station, Andrew Zorin has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Cape Emine is a prominent cape projecting into the Black Sea about 20 km (13 mi) northeast of Nessebur. The cape is the eastern end of the projected trans-European E3 footpath. The site appears accessible, but the light station itself is closed. ARLHS BUL-014; Admiralty N4996, NGA 17612.
* Nesebar (Nesebur, Nessebur) (1)
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with gallery; lantern removed. The tower is unpainted. A closeup and a second closeup are available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The active light (focal plane 10 m (33 ft); flash every 8 s, red or green depending on direction) is on a 6 m (20 ft) square skeletal tower. The lighthouse has been incorporated into a seaside restaurant. Nesebar is a beach resort town about 25 km (15 mi) northeast of Burgas. The lighthouse is on an island just offshore and connected to the town by a causeway. Located on the northern tip of the island; the active light is at the end of a breakwater attached to the southwestern tip of the island. Site open, tower status unknown. ARLHS BUL-033; Admiralty N4994, NGA 17608.

Pomorie Lighthouse
Pomorie Reef
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with gallery, mounted on a square pier. Lighthouse painted black with one yellow horizontal band. Vlad Barbu has a photo, another photo, a distant view, and another view are available, and Bing has a satellite view. Pomorie is a beach town at the end of a narrow spit about 15 km (9 mi) east northeast of Burgas; the light marks the north side of the entrance to Burgas Bay. Located on a rock southeast of the beach at Pomorie. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS BUL-018; Admiralty N4990, NGA 17604.
Cape Emine Light
Cape Emine Light, Emona, April 2006
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Evgeni Dinev

Burgas Lighthouses
* Burgas (East Mole) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1899). Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 3 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands; lantern painted white. Fog horn (one short and three long blasts every 30 s). Pavel Sotirov has a photo, Dimo Panaiotov has a view from the shore, and Bing has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the original lighthouse, a cast iron tourelle. Located at the end of a breakwater mole on the north side of the entrance to Burgas harbor. There is a road on the mole. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-002; Admiralty N4984, NGA 17580.
* Burgas East Breakwater West Arm
1899. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. A 2012 photo is available, the light is at the left in a small photo of the pier, and Bing has a satellite view. This is another typical tourelle. Located at the end of the inner breakwater on the east side of the entrance to the inner harbor of Burgas. Site appears open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-026; Admiralty N4986, NGA 17584.
* Burgas West Breakwater East Arm
1899. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical cast iron (?) tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. A sunrise photo is available, the light is seen across the harbor entrance in a photo of the previous light, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the inner breakwater on the west side of the entrance to the inner harbor of Burgas. Site appears open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-027; Admiralty N4988, NGA 17588.
* Sveta Anastasiya {Ostrov Bolshevik}
1914 (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white or red light, depending on direction, 2 s on, 6 s off. 12 m (39 ft) round tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome is gray metallic. 1-story keeper's house, painted white with a red tile roof. A photo is at right, a view from the sea and a second view are available, radio amateur LZ4BU has an aerial photo of the island (near the bottom of the page), and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse appears to be a sibling of the Sv. Ivan Light (next entry). Sveta Anasastiya is a small island in Burgas Bay about 6 km (3.5 mi) east southeast of the Burgas waterfront. The island was the site of a convent, later converted to a prison. It is accessible by passenger ferry from Burgas. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-021; Admiralty N4980, NGA 17572.

Sozopol Lighthouses
* Sveti Ivan
1884. Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 13 m (43 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a small equipment cabinet. A keeper's house is nearby. Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome is gray metallic. Fog horn (4 blasts every 30 s). A photo appears at the top of this page, a view from the sea is available, Geir Halvorsen also has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view of the station. The lighthouse was built by French engineers for the government of Eastern Rumelia. Sveti Ivan (St. John) is an island about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) north of Sozopol on the south side of the entrance to Bourgaski Zaliv (Burgas Bay). The island is famous for the ruins of a 12th century monastery, and archaeologists have found the ruins of a second century Roman lighthouse on the island. Boat transportation is available from Sozopol. Located on the northern tip of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-022; Admiralty N4976, NGA 17564.
Sveta Anastasia Light
Sveta Anastasiya Light, Burgas, August 2014
Wikimedia public domain photo by Skirienko
* Agios Petros South Pier
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 6 m (20 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 5 m (17 ft) octagonal 1-story white concrete tower with gallery. A photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of the south (really west) quay at Sozopol harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-036; Admiralty N4978.4.
* Sozopol (1)
Date unknown. Inactive. 7 m (23 ft) short square skeletal tower centered on a 1-story square stone castellated building. The building is painted white with a black horizontal band. No closeup photo available, but the light can be seen to the right of the North Pier Light in a view of the harbor, and Google has a satellite view. Located at an elbow of the North Pier at Sozopol. Accessible by walking the mole. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-034.
* Sozopol (2) (Agios Petros North Pier)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 6 m (20 ft); red light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 5 m (17 ft) square 1-story white concrete tower with gallery. Oleg Ivanchenko has a photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view across the harbor. The pier is connected to a peninsula that was formerly the site of a naval college but is now designated as the site of a hotel. Located at the end of the north (breakwater) mole protecting the harbor at Sozopol. Accessible by walking the mole. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-035; Admiralty N4978.3.
Maslen Nos (Cape Zeitin)
1920s. Active; focal plane 37.5 m (123 ft); three white flashes every 17.2 s. 7 m (23 ft) stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A 1-story building nearby is probably a keeper's house. No closeup photo available. S.S. Irmanov has a distant view, there's also an aerial view, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on a rocky promontory about 7 km (4.5 mi) northeast of Primorsko. Site status unknown. ARLHS BUL-010; Admiralty N4974, NGA 17556.

Primorsko Lighthouse
* Primorsko Pierhead
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); white light, 2 s on, 3 s off. 5.5 m (18 ft) round stone tower with gallery; the light is displayed from a short skeletal mounting. Tower painted white. A photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater pier in Primorsko. Accessible by walking the pier (caution: no railings). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-019; Admiralty N4972, NGA 17552.

Tsarevo Lighthouses
* Tsarevo {Micurin} Main
Date unknown (probably recent). Active; focal plane 41 m (134 ft); white light, 3 s on, 4 s off. Light mounted atop a 20 m (66 ft) building, listed by NGA as a "dwelling." No photo available. Google has a street view of a building that is a likely location for the light. Google has a satellite view of this location. Site presumably open, tower status unknown. ARLHS BUL-012; Admiralty N4971.5, NGA 17550.
#[Tsarevo {Micurin} Port]
Date unknown. Demolished in 2010. This was a 10 m (33 ft) post mounted on a small round conical concrete equipment shelter. Base painted yellow, post black. Mihaela Ivanova has a photo, but Google's 2012 street view confirms the removal of the light. Google has a satellite view of the location. Located on a rock off the harbor of Tsarevo. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-031; Admiralty N4970, NGA 17544.
* Ahtopol (Akhtopol)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); six quick white flashes followed by one long white flash every 15 s. 11 m (36 ft) tower in two sections: the lower section is a 6 m (20 ft) round stone rubblestone tower on a square rubblestone base, and the upper section is a 5 m (17 ft) square pyramidal cast iron (?) skeletal tower mounted on a small equipment shelter. Originally, the upper section was painted yellow and the lower section black, but in the summer of 2009 the light was restored and painted all white, as seen in Stefan Vatev's photo at right. A 2008 photo is available, another view shows how close the light is to the waterfront of the town, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on a rock just off the coast at Ahtopol, about 12 km (7.5 mi) southeast of Tsarevo. It appears that the lighthouse can be approached at low water. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS BUL-001; Admiralty N4968, NGA 17540.
Ahtopol Light
Ahtopol Light, Ahtopol, August 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Stefan Vatev

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Romania | South: European Turkey

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Created January 12, 2007. Checked and revised October 7, 2014. Lighthouses: 29. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.