Lighthouses of Eastern Estonia

Estonia is a small country with a surprisingly long coastline. Surrounded on 2-1/2 sides by water, it faces the Gulf of Riga on the southwest, the Baltic Sea on the west, and the Gulf of Finland on the north. There are two large islands in the Baltic, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, and countless small islands. To guard these coasts, Estonia has more than 70 lighthouses and a well-developed lighthouse administration. This page includes the lighthouses of eastern Estonia, including West and East Viru and the shores of Lake Peipsi. Viru, or Virumaa, is the region known historically as Vironia.

Estonia was part of the Russian Empire until the end of World War I in 1918, and then it was incorporated into the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1990. Thus the older lighthouses are from the Russian Imperial period, and some of the newer ones are of Soviet construction. An example from the imperial period appear at right: the old Suurupi lighthouse, built in 1760.

Lighthouses in Estonia are operated by the Estonian Maritime Administration. In Estonian, a lighthouse is a tuletorn (fire tower) or a majakas. Special thanks to Michel Forand for sharing his research on these lighthouses.

Names in curly brackets {} are non-Estonian former names (Swedish or German).

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. EMA numbers are from the web site of the Estonian Maritime Administration. Admiralty numbers are from volume C of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 116.

General Sources
EMA Aids to Navigation Database
Official information from the Estonian Maritime Administration.
Eesti Tuletorni Selts
Web site of the Estonian Lighthouse Society (in Estonian).
Insulaar - Aids to Navigation
This web site includes photos and data for navigational aids throughout Estonia.
Lighthouses History
A useful history of Estonian lighthouse construction, in English.
Online List of Lights - Estonia
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Estonian Lighthouses
A large portfolio of photos posted on Panoramio.com by Sven Vaarandi.
Lighthouses in Estonia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Estonia
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Leuchttürme an der estländischen Ostseeküste
Photos of 8 Estonian lighthouses posted by Bernd Claußen.
Lighthouses Estonia
Photos by Joke Reijnen.
Six Remarkable Estonian Lighthouses
Information posted by Cybernetica AS, an Estonian manufacturer of aids to navigation.
Estonian Lighthouse Postcards
Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
Leuchttürme...auf historischen Postkarten
This page, posted by Klaus Huelse, has 18 historic postcard views of Estonian lighthouses.

Vergi Light
Vergi Light, Vergi, July 2007
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Sven Vaarandi

Lääne-Viru (West Viru) County Lighthouses

Vihula Parish Lighthouses
* Käsmu
1892. Inactive since the mid 1990s. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) 2-story wood building, painted white; the light was shown through a window. Wikimedia has a photo, a view from the beach is available, and Michel Forand has a historic postcard view. The little lighthouse is partly obscured by trees in Google's satellite view. This light and the Suurupi Range Front Light (see Northern Estonia) are the only surviving wood lighthouses in Estonia. In 1990, shortly before it was deactivated, the lighthouse had to be moved back from the receding shoreline. In 1998 it was declared to be a protected cultural monument. Located just off the beach
* Vergi (3)
1936 (station established 1917). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); flash every 3 s, white, red, or green depending on direction. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern roof is black. Vaarandi's photo is at the top of this page, Trabas has EMA's winter closeup photo, Estonian Wikipedia has an article with a view of the lighthouse, Wikimedia also has Tony Bowden's 2010 closeup, and Google has a satellite view. The station was established with a small beacon, which was upgraded to a skeletal tower in 1924. The present lighthouse was restored and repainted sometime in recent years. NGA describes the light as being on an island, but apparently the island is now joined to the mainland. Located on the point of Cape Vergi, near the town of Vergi. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-058; EMA 080; Admiralty C3872; NGA 12920.
Vergi Range Front (2)
1973 (station established 1935). Inactive since 2003. 10 m (33 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower; the front of the tower carries a slatted daymark painted white with a red vertical stripe. Google has a distant street view and an indistinct satellite view. These range light towers continue to be listed as a day range. Located 1.1 km (0.7 mi) southwest of the Vergi lighthouse. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty C3873; EMA 085.
Vergi Range Rear (2)
1973 (station established 1935). Inactive since 2003. 17 m (56 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower; the front of the tower carries a slatted daymark painted white with a red vertical stripe (at least EMA says it's red, although it appears black in the photo.) Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located 170 m (550 ft) west southwest of the front light. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty C3873.1; EMA 086.
* Vainupea (Vainupää)
1958. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 6 s. 20 m (66 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, covered with a white slatted daymark. Trabas has an EMA photo, Vaarandi has a 2008 photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a headland about 15 km (9 mi) northwest of Kunda. Parking is available next to the light tower. Site open, tower closed. EMA 075; Admiralty C3874; NGA 12924.
Vaindloo {Stenskär} (5?)
1864 (relocated here in 1871; station established 1718). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); flash every 15 s, white or red depending on direction. 17 m (56 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern dome is red. 1-story crew quarters buildings, stone oil house, and other buildings in a fenced enclosure. Close to the lighthouse is a 50 m (164 ft) skeletal tower used by the Estonian Border Guard. Vaarandi's photo is at right, Evelin Nummert has a portfolio of 2009 photos, Trabas has an EMA photo, and a distant view is available, but Google has only a very distant satellite view. The lighthouse replaced a series of wooden lighthouses, patched and rebuilt many times; the last one collapsed in 1868. This lighthouse was relocated from Vormsi in 1871. It is one of three cast iron lighthouses prefabricated in England for the Russian government of Estonia; the other two are the Kihnu Light, which survives (see Western Estonia), and the first Virtsu Light, now destroyed. The island of Vaindloo, 26 km (16 mi) out in the Gulf of Finland, is the northernmost point of Estonia. It appears that the station is staffed as an assertion of Estonian sovereignty. The island is also visited from time to time by birders and researchers. Located on an island about 16 km (10 mi) north of Kunda. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS EST-057; EMA 045; Admiralty C3876; NGA 12928.
Vaindloo Light
Vaindloo Light, July 2005
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Sven Vaarandi

Kunda City Lighthouse
* Kunda (2)
1909 (station established 1896). Inactive at least since 1999. Originally this was a 17 m (56 ft) square pyramidal wood tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square 1-story limestone base. Only the stone base survives. Google has a satellite view. The wooden tower was destroyed by fire in the summer of 1999. A historic photo and Michel Forand's postcard view show its original appearance. In recent years the National Heritage Board has secured the building and added a roof to protect it from further deterioration; perhaps the light tower can be rebuilt in the future. Located near the base of the jetty in Kunda. Site status unknown. Owner/site manager: Muinsuskaitseamet. ARLHS EST-069.

Viru-Nigula Parish Lighthouses
Uhtju (4?)
2000 (station established 1821). Active; focal plane 17.5 m (57 ft); white flash every 4 s. 13 m (43 ft) slender round cylindrical tower carrying a large round lantern structure. The lantern and lower half of the tower are gray metallic; the upper half of the tower is painted red. Bing has a satellite view. Located on a small island, the highest point of a dangerous shoal area, about 25 km (15 mi) north of Kunda. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. EMA 042; Admiralty C3877; NGA 12935.
* Letipea (3)
1951 (station established 1815). Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); four flashes every 18 s, white, red, or green depending on direction. 14 m (43 ft) Virtsu-type square concrete tower with gallery but no lantern, mounted on a square concrete block base. Entire lighthouse painted white. A 2009 photo and a 2009 photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. This is a directional light for ships approaching the port of Kunda. A concrete tower built here in 1936 was blown up during World War II. Located at the tip of Cape Letipea, about 12 km (7 mi) northeast of Kunda. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-031; EMA 040; Admiralty C3884; NGA 12940.

Ida-Viru (East Viru) County Lighthouses

Lüganuse Parish Lighthouse
* Moldova
1958. Active; focal plane 85 m (279 ft); white flash every 3 s. 28 m (92 ft) square steel skeletal tower, painted red; the upper 2/3 of the lighthouse is enclosed by a slatted daymark painted black on the upper third of the tower and white in the middle third. Vaarandi has a 2011 photo, a 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a hill at Moldova, about 10 km (6 mi) west of Kohtla-Järve. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-074; EMA 030; Admiralty C3888; NGA 12944.

Kohtla Parish Lighthouses
#Valaste (2)
1950s (station established 1928). Inactive since about 2005 and demolished sometime in the late 2000s. 15 m (49 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower. Three sides of the tower were covered by a slatted daymark, now in disrepair; the upper 2/3 of the daymark are painted red and the lower third white. Vaarandi has a 2000 photo, but no tower is seen in Google's satellite view. Located a short distance northeast of the modern tower.
* Valaste (3)
2005 (?) (station established 1928). Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 2 s. 50 m (164 ft) square cylindrical skeletal communications tower topped by a rectangular platform and a radar antenna. Tower painted in red and white horizontal bands. A 2008 photo of the top of the tower is available, and Google has a good satellite view and a distant street view. Located just off the beach at Valaste, about 8 km (5 mi) north of Jõhvi. Site open, tower closed. EMA 025; Admiralty C3890; NGA 12948.

Narva-Jõesuu City Lighthouses
Narva (Narva-Jõesuu) (3)
1957 (station established 1725). Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); two long (1.5 s) white flashes every 12 s. 30 m (98 ft) round concrete block tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a 1-story stone base. Tower painted with red and white horizontal bands; lantern painted black; base unpainted gray stone. Fresnel lens in use. An EMA photo is at right, Lighthouse Explorer has an older EMA photo, Kati Suomalainen has a 2007 photo, Vaarandi has a 2008 photo, Wikimedia also has a 2008 photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Narva is a historic port city on the frontier between Estonia and Russia. Nothing is known of the 1725 tower, but Huelse has a historic postcard view of the 1808 lighthouse, which was destroyed during World War II. Lighthouse located in Narva-Jöesuu, on the west bank at the entrance to the Narva River. Site status unknown; the area near the mouth of the river is gated. ARLHS EST-036; EMA 001; Admiralty C3894; NGA 12956.
* Narva-Jõesuu Range Rear
1954. Active; focal plane 16.5 m (54 ft); red light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 12 m (39 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted red. The tower carries a slatted daymark, painted white with a black triangle, point down. Trabas has a larger version of the EMA photo, and Google has a satellite view. This is an entrance range for the Narva River. The front light is on a similar but shorter tower. Located on the west side of the river in Narva-Jõesuu. Site open, tower closed. EMA 016; Admiralty C3897.1; NGA 12957.1.
Narva Light
Narva Light, Narva-Jõesuu
Estonian Maritime Administration photo

Lake Peipsi (Peipus) Lighthouses

Note: Lake Peipsi (Peipsi Järv or Lake Peipus) is a large lake that forms more than half of Estonia's eastern border with Russia. The lake drains to the Gulf of Finland through the Narva River. Lake Pihkva, the southernmost section of Lake Peipsi, is connected to the main section by a strait at Mehikoorma. Estonia and Russia have established a joint commission to encourage use of these waterways by pleasure craft. No lighthouses are known on the Russian side of the lake, although amateur radio operator UE3EDA has a photo that may show a lighthouse on or near Ostrov Voroniy, at the northern entrance to the Mehikoorma strait.
Narva City (Ida-Viru County) Lighthouse
* Rannapungerja
1930s. Active; focal plane about 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 4 s. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern roof is black. A photo is at right, another recent photo is available, EMA has a page with a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the entrance to the Rannapungerja River on the northwestern shore of the lake. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-048; EMA P01.

Tartu County Lighthouses
* Ninaküla
1938. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. 10 m (34 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern roof is black. Andres Piir has a good photo, Kalev Kevad has a photo, Jurgis Karnavicius has a nice view, EMA has a page with a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a headland near Nina, in front of an Orthodox church, in Alatskivi Parish about 5 km (3 mi) south of Kallaste on the west side of the lake. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-037; EMA P12.
* Mehikoorma
1930s. Active; focal plane about 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 4 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern and gallery. A photo is available, EMA has a page with a photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on a headland at the narrowest point of the strait connecting Lakes Lämmi and Pihkva, in Meeksi Parish about 3 km (2 mi) east of the town of Meeksi. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EST-033; EMA P20.
Rannapungerja Light
Rannapungerja Light, August 2008
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Maasaak

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Türsamäe (1958-?), Sillamäe, East Viru County.

Notable faux lighthouses:

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Adjoining pages: North and East: Ingria | West: Northern Estonia

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Posted May 1, 2005. Checked and revised March 10, 2014. Lighthouses: 17. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.