Lighthouses of Switzerland
Switzerland is an Alpine country with no seacoast, but
it does have lighthouses on two large lakes. One is Lac Léman (Lake Geneva in English). The Rhône River flows out of Lac Léman
at Genève (Geneva) to begin its course through southern France
to the Mediterranean. Another large lake is the Bodensee (Lake Constance),
located on the country's northern border with Germany. The Rhine River
flows through the Bodensee before beginning its course northward through
Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea.
The lighthouses on the lakes are owned and operated by the respective
city governments. Besides being decorative, they do have some function,
since there is navigation on both lakes.
The French word for a lighthouse is phare, but it is usually reserved for larger coastal lighthouses; each of these Swiss lights would be called a feu (fire) in French. The German word for a lighthouse is Leuchtturm (light tower).
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights.
Special thanks to Michel Forand for providing much of the data on these
- General Sources
- Phares d'Europe
- Photos of European lighthouses collected by Alain Guyomard and Robert Carceller.
- Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.
Les Paquis Light, Genève, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Bobby Hidy
- Lighthouses of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva)
- Genève Jetée du Sud (2)
- 1911 (station established 1875). Active (?); focal plane 3 m (10
ft); continuous red light. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal cast iron tower
with an ornate domed roof. Tower painted white, lantern black. Victor
photo is at right, Nathalie Booth has a nice panoramic view
showing the Feu des Pâquis (next entry) in the background,
Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has an aerial
view. Located at the end of the Jetée du Sud (south jetty)
in the Parc des Eaux-Vives, near the famous Jet
d'Eau, the world's tallest fountain (140 m (459 ft) high).
Site and tower closed (this jetty does not appear to be walkable),
but there are good views from the park onshore. Owner/site manager: Ville
de Genève. ARLHS SWI-002.
- * Les
Pâquis (Genève) (2)
- 1896 (station established 1857). Active (?); focal plane 16 m (52
ft); white or green light, depending on direction; the lighthouse
is also floodlit
at night. Approx. 17 m (56 ft) octagonal cast iron tower mounted
on an octagonal stone base. Entire lighthouse painted white. Bobby Hidy's photo is at the top of this page, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has an aerial
view. This well known lighthouse is the subject of countless
photos. The first lighthouse was built as an experiment, to test
the use of a primitive form of electric lighting in which the
light was provided by an open arc of electricity. The tests were
held in December 1857. The results were inconclusive at best,
and the test lighthouse was abandoned until the present tower
was built in 1896. At that time there was commercial shipping
on Lac Léman, but only pleasure
craft and passenger ferries navigate
the lake today. The lighthouse is located at the end of the Jetée
des Pâquis, which projects into Lac Léman on the waterfront
of downtown Genève (Geneva), at the intersection of the Quai
du Mont Blanc and the Quai Wilson. Site open, tower closed.
Owner/site manager: Ville
Jetée du Sud Light and Jet d'Eau, Genève, September
Flickr Creative Commons photo by
- * Morges Jetée du Sud
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); continuous red light.
7 m (23 ft) square masonry tower with a steeply pyramidal, tile-covered
roof; the light is displayed from the peak of the roof. Geoff Marston has a 2008 photo
showing both lighthouses, another photo of both lighthouses is available, and Google has an aerial
view of the harbor. Morges is a town on the north side of Lac
Léman a short distance west of Lausanne. The harbor was
built in 1696 and the two jetty houses are believed to be nearly
that old. It is not known when they were equipped with lights,
but note that there's no light shown in Huelse's postcard
view. Located at the end of the south jetty at Morges. Accessible
by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SWI-003.
- * Morges Jetée du Nord
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); continuous green
light. 7 m (23 ft) square masonry tower with a steeply pyramidal,
tile-covered roof; the light is displayed from the peak of the roof.
Claudine Booth's photo is at right, a photo of both lighthouses is available, this lighthouse is on the left in Geoff Marston's 2008 photo
showing both lighthouses, and Google has an aerial
view. Located at the end of the north
jetty at Morges. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower
closed. ARLHS SWI-004.
Jetée du Nord Light, Morges, April 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by
Lighthouses of the Bodensee (Lake Constance)
(see also Germany: The Bodensee and Austria)
- * Romanshorn
- Date unknown (before 1910). Active (?); presumably a green light, characteristic
unknown. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) octagonal tower with a small square lantern
topped by a square skeletal fog bell tower with bell. Tower painted white;
roof is gray, lantern black. Klaus Potschien's photo is at right, Simon Frei has a closeup photo,
Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite
view. The building was formerly used as a customs house. Located at the end of the north jetty, one of two jetties enclosing
the harbor of Romanshorn, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Rorschach. Accessible
by walking the pier, and there should be good views from the ferries sailing across the lake between Romanshorn and Friedrichshafen, Germany.
Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SWI-005.
- * Rorschach
- 1869. Active (?); green light, characteristic unknown. Approx. 12 m (39
ft) square skeletal cast iron tower with a small gallery. A panoramic photo and a 2009 closeup are available, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has a satellite
view. Located at the end of the long, curving breakwater at Rorschach.
Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SWI-006.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
- Oberalppass (2010). This lighthouse is a reduced-scale replica (about 2/3 size) of the Hoek van Holland Low Light in Rotterdam, at the mouth of the Rhine River. Built as a tourist attraction, the replica stands just below the Oberalppass in Tujetsch, very close to the traditional source of the Rhine. The pass has an altitude of 2046 m (6713 ft). The tower has a working light. Walter Brunner has a closeup photo, and another photo is available, but Google's satellite view does not show the tower.
Romanshorn Light, Romanshorn, July 2005
photo copyright Klaus Potschien; used by permission
Adjoining pages: North: Germany Bodensee | East: Austria | South: Côte d'Azur (French Riviera)
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Posted April 17, 2006. Checked and revised March 18, 2013.
Lighthouses: 6. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.