Lighthouses of Greece: Crete

The fifth largest island of the Mediterranean, Crete (Kríti) is 260 km (160 mi) long from east to west but only 13 km (8 mi) to 60 km (37 mi) in width. Venice governed Crete from early in the 13th century to late in the 17th century, when the island came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. During the 1800s, repeated rebellions and much political maneuvering led to Crete's becoming an independent Greek republic in 1898. The Cretan Republic was unified with the Kingdom of Greece in 1913, after the end of the Balkan Wars.

The historic lighthouses of the island are often described as Venetian, but most of them were built by French engineers in the early 1860s, while the island was under Ottoman rule.

Administratively, Crete is divided into four counties (regional units, formerly called prefectures): Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi.

The Greek word for a lighthouse, pharos or fáros (φάρος), is the root for the words in many Western European languages. In Greek, nisis is an island, akra is a cape or headland, kolpós is a bay or gulf.

Lighthouses in Greece are maintained by the Hellenic Navy Hydrographic Service.

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

General Sources
Lighthouses of Greece
A comprehensive site posted by amateur radio operator Pavlidis Savas (SV2AEL); it includes data and photos for 120 traditional Greek lighthouses.
Online List of Lights - Greece
Photos posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses in Greece
Aerial photos posted by Marinas.com.
TrekEarth - Lighthouses of Greece
Photos by various contributors.
Lighthouses in Greece
Photos available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Greece
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Leuchttürme an der griechischen Küste
Photos by various photographers posted by Bernd Claußen.
Europäische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Chania Light
Chania Light, Chania, May 2009
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Rjh


Gavdos Lighthouses
Note: Gavdos (Gávdhos) is a small island 27 km (17 mi) south of Chóra Skafion on the south coast of Crete. The island is the southernmost point of Greece and of Europe. The permanent population is only about 50, but several thousand vacationers may be present during the summer. Ferry transportation is available from Sougia and from Chóra Skafion. Gavdos is governed as part of Chania County.
* [Tripiti (Gávdhos, Ákra Tripití) (2?)]
1990. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); two white flashes every 16 s. 6 m (20 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. Lighthouse painted white. A photo shows the current light in the background behind a similar tower that has collapsed. Bing's satellite view of the cape does not show the light. Ákra Tripití is the southernmost tip of the island, and thus has some fame as the southernmost point of Europe. Accessible by a hiking trail. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-007; Admiralty E4840; NGA 16208.
* Gávdhos (1)
1880. Inactive since World War II. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) round masonry tower, formerly with lantern and gallery and attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse formerly painted white. The lighthouse was largely destroyed by an air raid during World War II. A photo is available, Savas has small photos of the ruined tower, and a larger photo is available (2/3 of the way down the page).
*** Gávdhos (2)
2003 reconstruction of 1880 lighthouse. Inactive. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story replica of the keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome painted dark green. A photo is at right, Georgios Papaioannou also has a photo, and a 2007 photo by Panagiotis Laskaris shows visitors on the gallery, and Bing has a satellite view. This replica was built during 2002-03 and is open to the public; the rebuilt keeper's house is a museum. Located on the southwestern coast of the island. Site open, museum and tower open in season.
Gavdos Light
Gávdhos Light, Gávdhos, August 2012
Flickr photo copyright gavdos012; permission requested

Chania County (Western Crete) Lighthouses
Elefónisi (Elefonisos) (2)
Date unknown (station established about 1910). Active; focal plane 43 (141 ft); three white flashes every 24 s. 15 m (49 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Next to the tower are the ruins of a stone keeper's house and a small stone chapel. A photo is available, also a photo of the keeper's house ruins, Trabas has a distant view, and Bing has a satellite view. According to Savas's text, the light was built after the Austrian liner Imperatrice wrecked on nearby reefs in 1907 or 1908 (both dates appear). The original lighthouse was a tall stone tower. Located on an island just off the southwestern tip of Crete. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS CRE-006; Admiralty E4778; NGA 16224.
[Gramvoúsa (2)]
Date unknown (station established 1874). Active; focal plane 108 m (354 ft); red flash every 10 s. 3 m (10 ft) metal beacon on a masonry base. Beacon painted white with a red horizontal band. Trabas has a distant view of the cape, but it doesn't show the light. Bing's satellite view proves that the masonry tower shown in Savas's photo does not survive, but it appears that the 1-story square masonry keeper's house is standing. Gramvoúsa is a pair of islands off the northwestern tip of Crete. Located at the northwestern tip of Agria Gramvoúsa, the northern island of the pair. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty E4780; NGA 16008.
* Chania (Khaniá, Khanion)
1864 (station established by Venice in the 15th century). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); red flash every 2.5 s. 26 m (85 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a much older stone base. The light is now displayed from the top of the lantern. The entire lighthouse is unpainted white stone; lantern painted white. A 2009 photo is at the top of this page, Traba has a closeup by Arno Siering, Stavros Markopoulos has a 2008 photo, Wikimedia has photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Bing has a satellite view. The port of Chania was built by Venice on the site of the ancient town of Kydonia, and the stone base of this lighthouse is part of the 15th century Venetian lighthouse. In recent years Chania has become a popular cruise ship port, making this one of the best-known and most-often-photographed Greek lighthouses. Savas's photos show that it was in poor condition by the late 1990s. In 2006 a thorough restoration was carried out; Martin Belam's photo taken on 2 May 2006 shows the lighthouse with its lantern removed and the tower wrapped in scaffolding. Located at the end of the breakwater mole on the east side of the entrance to Chania harbor, near the northwestern corner of Crete. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-004; Admiralty E4781; NGA 16012.
Ákra Maléka
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 48 m (157 ft); two white flashes every 12 s. "Metal framework tower on pedestal," according to NGA. No photo available, but Google's satellite view suggests that the "pedestal" is a building. Located atop a vertical cliff on Cape Melaka, about 25 km (15 mi) northeast of Chania. Site and tower closed (restricted military area). Admiralty E4783; NGA 16024.
[Nisis Soúdhas (2?)]
Date unknown (station established 1864). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); green flash every 4.8 s. 5 m (17 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white and enclosing a small equipment shelter. Oleg Makar has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Soúda Island is on the north side of Soúda (Suda) Bay, an important NATO naval base. The first lighthouse here had a focal plane of 25 m (82 ft). Located atop a historic fort at the southern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4786; NGA 16040.
Drépano (Drepanon) (2)
1948 (station established 1864). Active; focal plane 56 m (184 ft); three white flashes every 30 s. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal stone tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story stone keeper's house. The lighthouse is white; lantern dome is dark green. Trabas has a fine closeup by Arno Siering (also seen at right), a 2008 photo and a more distant view are available, and Bing has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was destroyed by German troops during World War II, but the present lighthouse is a copy. Ákra Drépano is on the south side of the entrance to Soúda (Suda) Bay. Savas claims the site takes three hours to reach, but the lighthouse is only 2.5 km (1.5 mi) northeast of Kokkino and is accessible by a primitive road. We do not know if the road is open to the public. Site status unknown. ARLHS CRE-014; Admiralty E4784; NGA 16036.
Drepano Light
Drepano Light, Kokkino
photo copyright Arno Siering; used by permission

Réthymno County Lighthouses
Note: Réthymno is a ferry port on the west central north coast of Crete. An ancient city with many archeological sites, Réthymno has a population of about 40,000 today.
* Réthymno North Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green flash every 3 s. 8 m (26 ft) post centered on a hexagonal 1-story equipment shelter. Lighthouse painted white with one green band around the post. Trabas has a photo by Arno Siering, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north mole (the main breakwater) of Réthymno harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4790; NGA 16064.
* Réthymno (Rethymnon, Rethimnon, Rethimno)
1864. Inactive for many years. 16 m (52 ft) stone tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square stone base at the end of a stone fortification. The lower 2/3 of the tower is octagonal and the upper 1/3 is round. The lighthouse is unpainted; the lantern is dark metallic. Alistair Young posted the photo at right and also a closeup, a 2010 photo is available, Wikimedia has several photos, and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse has clearly been abandoned for some time and the gallery rail is missing. The active lights have been moved to the ends of outer breakwaters enclosing a harbor much larger than the original. This lighthouse is second only to Chania as the most photographed lighthouse on the island. Located on the north mole of the old inner harbor of Rethymno, now used as a small boat harbor. Accessible by walking the mole. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-009.
* Réthymno South Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); red flash every 4 s. 7 m (23 ft) post centered on a hexagonal 1-story equipment shelter. Lighthouse painted white with one red band around the post. Trabas has a photo by Arno Siering, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south mole (a broad quay) of Réthymno harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4791.4; NGA 16068.
Khondros Kavos
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 57 m (187 ft); flash every 6 s, white or red depending on direction. 4.5 m (15 ft) round lantern, painted white, mounted on a concrete pad. Trabas has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a headland about 18 km (11 mi) east of Rethymno. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4792; NGA 16076.
Rethymnon Light
Réthymno Light, Réthymno, September 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Alistair Young

Heraklion County Lighthouses
Note: Heraklion (also spelled Iráklion and Herakleion) is the capital and largest city of Crete, with a population of about 170,000.
* Heraklion (Iráklion, Candia, Megalo Kastron)
1864. Inactive for many years. This was originally an approximately 12 m (40 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, mounted at the northeast corner of a 16th century Venetian fortress. A photo is at right, a 2009 photo and an excellent August 2006 photo are available, Huelse has a historic photo, and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse has been truncated to a height of about 6 m (20 ft) above the parapet, although the top of the stump is about 15 m (49 ft) above ground level. The fortress, known as Koules or Rocca al Mare, dominates the harbor of the city, which became the first Venetian outpost in Crete in 1204. Located on the north breakwater mole of Heraklion. Site and fortress open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-008.
* Heraklion Outer (North) Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); green light, 2 s on, 4 s off. 12 m (39 ft) post light centered on a hexagonal 1-story concrete equipment room. The lighthouse is unpainted. Trabas has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the long breakwater mole at Heraklion. Accessible by walking the mole. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4798; NGA 16100.
* Heraklion Pier 6 (South Breakwater)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red light, 2 s on, 4 s off. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower topped by a circular harbor control room; the light is centered on the roof of the building. Lighthouse painted white. Trabas has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the easternmost pier at Iráklion. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4800; NGA 16104.
Heraklion Light
Heraklion (Rocca al Mare) Light, Heraklion, August 2005
Flickr Creative Commons photo by phileole

Lasithi County (Eastern Crete) Lighthouses
Ágios Ioánnis (Cape St. John) (1)
1864. Inactive. 9 m (30 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a ruined 1-story stone keeper's house. The lighthouse is unpainted; the lantern was formerly painted white with a metallic dome. The active light (focal plane 49 m (161 ft); two white flashes every 12.8 s) is on a post on the slope above the lighthouse. A photo by Tony and Tessa Cross is at right, in a 2008 photo the lighthouse also appeared to be in very poor condition, Christos Tzortzis has a more distant view, Trabas has a distant view from above the lighthouse, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Clearly endangered by neglect and vandalism. The lantern dome blew off in a storm in late 2008, leaving the tower open to the elements; the lens and rotating mechanism were stolen shortly thereafter. Ákra Ágios Ioánnis is a prominent cape at the northern entrance to the Gulf of Mirambéllou in northeastern Crete. The photo at the bottom of Savas's page is not of this cape. The lighthouse is at the end of knife-edged ridge and is difficult to access by land. Located on the point of the cape, about 25 km (15 mi) north of Ágios Nikólaos. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-003; Admiralty E4814; NGA 16124.
[Ágioi Pandes (Ágios Nikólaos, St. Nicholas)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 3 s. 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. 1-story keeper's house and other light station buildings. Trabas has a distant view, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the northern tip of the island of Ágioi Pandes ("All Saints"), marking the entrance to the harbor of Ágios Nikólaos. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4816; NGA 16128.
Ágios Nikólaos Jetty
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 2 s. 8 m (26 ft) post centered on a hexagonal 1-story equipment shelter. Lighthouse painted white with one red band around the equipment shelter. Trabas has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the jetty of Ágios Nikólaos. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4818; NGA 16132.
[Ákra Vamvakiá (2?) (Cape Sitia)]
Date unknown (station established 1892). Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); three white flashes every 18 s. 5 m (17 ft) skeletal tower. Adjacent to this modern light is a ruined 1-story stone keeper's house. Trabas has a photo, a closeup photo of the keeper's house is available, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the tip of a promontory about 4 km (2.5 mi) northeast of Sitía. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4820; NGA 16140.
Faros Ágios Ioánnis
Ágios Ioánnis Light, February 2010
Contributed photo copyright Tony Cross; used by permission
Cape Sidero (Ákra Sídhero) (2)
1948 (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); white flash every 10 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story concrete keeper's house. The tower is unpainted white concrete; lantern painted white with a dark green dome. The original lighthouse was destroyed during World War II. Manolis Hetzakis has a 2011 photo, a distant view is available, Trabas has a very distant view from the sea, Wolfgang Kistler has a photo of oil being unloaded at the lighthouse in 1968, and Bing has a satellite view. Note: there is another Faros Sídhero on Kérkyra (Corfu) off the west coast of Greece. This lighthouse marks Ákra Sídhero, the northeastern tip of Crete. The cape is on an island connected tenuously to a second island, which in turn is connected tenuously to the mainland. There is a road snaking out to the lighthouse, and apparently this road is open to the public. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CRE-010; Admiralty E4826; NGA 16160.
* Ierapetra Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); red flash every 3 s. 6 m (20 ft) concrete post centered on a hexagonal 1-story concrete equipment shelter. The light is unpainted except for a narrow red band around the top of the post. Trabas has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater of the small boat harbor of Ierapetra, a town on the southeastern coast of Crete. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E4831; NGA 16184.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Aegean Islands | West: Southern Greece

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Posted December 31, 2006. Checked and revised November 4, 2013. Lighthouses: 18. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.