Lighthouses of Libya

Libya was formed as an Italian colony in 1934 by the union of Tarabulus (Tripolitania) and Barqah (Cyrenaica), two former provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The two provinces, separated by the broad Gulf of Sirte, had been occupied by Italian troops between 1911 and 1914. After being captured by Allied troops in heavy fighting during World War II, the country became independent in 1952. Under the rule of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi (1969-2011), Libya was estranged from the West for many years. Gaddafi was overthrown in heavy fighting during 2011. As far as is known, the lighthouses survived this conflict without serious damage. However, unrest has continued in the country, and we do not curremt have information about the lights.

Aids to navigation in Libya are maintained by the General Ports and Lights Authority. The Arabic word for a lighthouse is mnarh or manara (منارة). Ra's is the word for a cape or headland.

For lighthouse fans, most of Libya has been terra incognita for many years. Khadija Teri has provided us with several photos, but nothing is known about most of the other lighthouses. If you have current information about any of these lights, please contact me.

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
Online List of Lights - Libya
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
World of Lighthouses - Libya
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses in Libya
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Postcards from the collection of Klaus Huelse.
Lighthouses of Africa
Postcards from the collection of Michel Forand.

Tripoli Light
Tripoli Light, Tripoli, August 2006
photo copyright Khadija Teri; used by permission

Tripolitania (Tarabulus) Lighthouses
Farwah (Farwa)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white light, 2 s on, 3 s off. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square cylindrical masonry tower rising from a 1-story keeper's house; the light is shown from a short mast atop the tower. The tower is painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern; house painted white. Tarek al Hamruni's excellent photo is at right, a second photo is available (3/4 of the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on a spit sheltering the small harbor of Abu Kammash, about 30 km (19 mi) east of the Tunisian border. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-003; Admiralty E6326; NGA 21728.
* Zuwara (Zuara) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1930s). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 13 m (43 ft) short skeletal tower mounted on the roof of a 3-story waterfront building; the top of the building is painted with a black and white checkered daymark. Fowzi Alqaffaz has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Forand has a historic photo of the original lighthouse, which was probably destroyed during World War II. Located at the base of the breakwater of Zuwara harbor. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6322; NGA 21716.
Zuwara North Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); very quick flashing green light. 10 m (33 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery mounted on a square concrete base. A 2013 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the main breakwater of Zuwara. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6323; NGA 21720.
* Sabratah (Marsa Zuwaghah)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 6 m (20 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with a conical base, attached to a small service building. Lighthouse painted with black and white horizontal bands. Tarek al Hamruni has a closeup photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located near the shore about 6 km (3.5 mi) northwest of Sabratah. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6318; NGA 21712.

Farwah Light, Abu Kammash, April 2009
Panoramio photo copyright Tarek al Hamruni; used by permission
* Marsa Dila (Dilah)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with a conical base, mounted on a large building (possibly an old fortress). Lighthouse painted in a red and white checkerboard pattern. Abdullah Elgamoudi has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the shore near Az-Zawiyah. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6316; NGA 21708.
Tarabulus (Tripoli) Main (4)
Date unknown (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 26 m (89 ft) round cylindrical tower with a flared top, painted with horizontal black and white bands. Khadija Teri's photo appears at the top of the page, and she has posted another photo. Trabas also has a photo, Lightphotos.net has a photo, and Google has a fine satellite view. The original lighthouse was destroyed by Italian naval shelling during the Turkish-Italian War of 1911. The second, a cast iron skeletal tower built in 1912, was replaced by a reinforced concrete tower similar in height and daymark to the present lighthouse. Designed by the Italian engineer Aldo Bruschi, the third lighthouse was built in 1924-26 and demolished in 1943 during World War II. Silvestro Bruschi, the designer's son, has contributed a photo of the third lighthouse, Michel Forand has a postcard view, and Huelse has a more distant postcard view. The present lighthouse must have been built sometime after the war, but the exact date is not known. Located on the waterfront in Tarabulus (Tripoli). Site status unknown; the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse may be restricted but the tower can be seen from nearby. ARLHS LBY-010; Admiralty E6294; NGA 21652.
Tarabulus (Tripoli) Spanish Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10.5 m (34 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 10 m (33 ft) round concrete tower, painted with black and white horizontal bands. Arie Dekker has a distant view (this light is across the harbor), and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the easternmost mole on the north side of the harbor. Site and tower closed. ARLHS LBY-009; Admiralty E6304; NGA 21692.
Ra's Tajura
Date unknown. Temporarily inactive; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 17 m (56 ft) square cylindrical masonry tower attached to a 1-story keeper's house; the light is shown from a short skeletal tower on the roof. Lighthouse painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern. A photo is at right, Miklos Kiss has a 2009 photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was restored in 2006-07. Tajura earned some notoriety as the site of Libya's former nuclear weapons development program. Located on a headland about 30 km (19 mi) east of Tripoli. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-007; Admiralty E6290; NGA 21644.
Ra's al Hallab (al-Qarābūll, Qara Bulli, Qara Boulle, Garaboulli)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 22 m (72 ft) round tower, painted white, topped by a short skeletal tower. A good photo is available, Khairy M. Shaban has a second photo, and Google has a satellite view. Endangered. The lighthouse is threatened by erosion of the cliff on which it stands; the cliff face has been armored with concrete to protect the station. Located on a headland projecting into the sea about halfway between Khoms and Tripoli. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-011; Admiralty E6288; NGA 21640.

Ra's Tajura Light
Ra's Tajura Light, Tajura, March 2008
Panoramio photo copyright Oo-v-oO; used by permission

* Al Khoms (Khums, Homs)
Date unknown (station established 1881). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 19 m (62 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. Khadija Teri's photo appears at right, Forand has a historic (but distant) postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the waterfront drive in Al Khoms, a port about 80 km (50 mi) west of Misratah. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS LBY-001; Admiralty E6284; NGA 21636.
* [Leptis (Lepcis) Magna]
About 200 CE. Inactive since about 455 at least. Foundation ruins of a Roman lighthouse can be seen at Leptis (or Lepcis) Magna, just east of Al Khoms. Simon White has an excellent photo, another photo of the ruins is available, and a third photo shows a depiction of a multi-story, arched tower inscribed on a surviving ceremonial archway of the city. This is the second tallest Roman lighthouse ruin, after the Dubris Pharos in Dover, England. In 196, the emperor Septimus Severus, who was born in Leptis Magna, launched a huge building program that made his home town into the second largest city of Roman Africa, after Alexandria. The city had a harbor sheltered by an east-pointing promontory and a breakwater. Built at the tip of the promontory, the lighthouse had three levels with high arches. Archaeologists believe it may have been as tall as 35 m (115 ft). The city was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 365 and conquered by the Vandals in 455. Today Leptis Magna, one of best preserved Roman cities anywhere, is one of Libya's best known tourist attractions. Located about 4 km (2.5 mi) southeast of Al Khoms. Site open.
Zlitan (Al Qalb, El-Gallab Hill) (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 3 s. 22 m (72 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower painted with black and white vertical stripes. A good photo is available, and and Google has a satellite view. This is probably a new building; NGA describes a 5 m (16 ft) tower. Located on a hill near the waterfront of Zlitan, a small port about halfway betweeb Misratah and Al Khoms. Site status unknown, but apparently the light can be seen from nearby. Admiralty E6280; NGA 21632.
Al Khoms Light
Al Khoms Light, Al Khoms
photo copyright Khadija Teri; used by permission
Ra's Zurrugh (Ra's al Bara Barq)
Date unknown (station established 1881). Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) square tower, painted with black and white vertical stripes and topped by a short skeletal tower. No photo available; a Google satellite view may show the tower. This lighthouse marks the northwestern corner of the Gulf of Sirte. Located on the waterfront in Qasr Ahmed, about 10 km (6 mi) east of Misratah. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-013; Admiralty E6274; NGA 21628.
* Sirte
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) white water tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located in downtown Sirte. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6268; NGA 21624.
Ra's Lanuf (Ra's al-Unuf)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 50 m (164 ft); two quick white flashes every 5 s. 52 m (171 ft) white water tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Ra's Lanuf is a major oil terminal and refinery, built near the southern end of the Gulf of Sirte. Located in the refinery complex. Site and tower closed. Admiralty E6266; NGA 21612.

Cyrenaica (Barqah) Lighthouses
* Banghazi (Benghazi) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 3 s. 22 m (72 ft) square cylindrical water tower topped by a 2-story "lantern" structure. The lighthouse has been repainted in a peach color with orange trim, as seen in a February 2014 news article. David Stanley's photo is at right, Ravi Bilgi has a 2008 photo, a 2011 photo and a 2009 closeup are available, Huelse has a historic postcard photo, Wikimedia has a 1931 photo, and Google has a good satellite view. Michel Forand has a historic but distant postcard view that shows an earlier lighthouse at the far left. The lighthouse was refurbished and repainted in 2013 and a large clock was added to the seaward side. Located just off Ahmad Rafiq al Mahdawi Street, the seaside street, about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) northeast of the harbor area in Benghazi. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6251.8; NGA 21508.
Sidi Suwaykir
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); four white flashes every 15 s. 15 m (49 ft) white square tower. No photo available, but a Google has a satellite view that probably shows the lighthouse. Located southwest of Daryanah and about 32 km (20 mi) northeast of Benghazi. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-008; Admiralty E6250; NGA 21500.
Tolmeita (Tulmaythah, Addirsiyah)
Date unknown (station established 1913). Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 16 m (52 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower topped by a short skeletal tower and mounted on a 1-story square concrete base. The tower and the base are painted with black and white horizontal bands. A photo appears below right, Andrew Faeh has a 2009 photo, Ibrahim Omran has a good photo, and Google has a satellite view. The tower is similar to the Bardiyah lighthouse. Located on the northwestern "shoulder" of Cyrenaica about 105 km (65 mi) northeast of Banghazi. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-015; Admiralty E6248; NGA 21496.
Benghazi Light
Benghazi Light, Benghazi, December 2010
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by David Stanley
Ra's Amir
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 11 m (36 ft) pyramidal concrete tower, painted with black and white horizontal bands. No closeup photo available; Krzysztof Grabski's distant view and a Google satellite view may show the lighthouse. This lighthouse marks the northernmost point of Libya. Located on a headland about 25 km (15 mi) west of Susah. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-006; Admiralty E6246; NGA 21492.
Susah (Apollonia)
Date unknown (station established 1919). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); white flash every 6 s. 7 m (23 ft) pyramidal concrete tower, painted white. The light is probably seen at the left of David Stanley's photo, a second view is available, and the light may be centered in Google's satellite view. Susah is the modern town on the site of the ancient Greek city of Apollonia, the principal port of Greek Cyrenaica. The city was destroyed by a tsunami in 365 AD and nothing remains of its Roman lighthouse. Located on the headland at the harbor entrance. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-014; Admiralty E6244; NGA 21488.
Ra's al-Hilal
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); three white flashes every 17.5 s. 12 m (39 ft) square pyramidal tower, painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. There is an interesting photo of a nearby tower that might be an earlier lighthouse. Located on a prominent headland about 40 km (25 mi) east of Susah. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-012; Admiralty E6242; NGA 21484.
Tolmeita Light
Tolmeita (Tulmaythah) Light, Tolmeita
Libyan Marine Biology Research Center photo
Darnah North Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); quick-flashing green light. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) square concrete tower with gallery, painted white with a green horizontal band. Alaa Said Miloud has a distant view of both mole lights, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north mole, which is the main breakwater for Darnah harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6238; NGA 21476.
Darnah South Mole
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); quick-flashing red light. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) square concrete tower with gallery, painted white with a red horizontal band. Alaa Said Miloud has a distant view of both mole lights, light is barely visible in Vic Diehl's photo of the harbor, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south mole. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6239; NGA 21480.
Darnah (Derna) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 10 m (33 ft) tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a keeper's house. Lighthouse painted with black and white horizontal bands. The lighthouse is centered in a panoramic photo of the city (it is seen better in the largest size of the photo), and Google has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the original lighthouse, and Forand has the same view. The original light was across town, on the west side of the city. Located on a bluff at the east end of Darnah, about 140 km (90 mi) northwest of Tobruk. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-002; Admiralty E6236; NGA 21472.
Ra's at-Tin
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); white flash every 5 s. 7 m (23 ft) skeletal tower with gallery. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a promontory about 50 km (30 mi) east of Darnah. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E6234; NGA 21468.
Tubruq (Tobruq, Tobruk) Main
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 53 m (174 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 8 m (26 ft) 2-story masonry building with the light displayed from the roof on a short post. The entire building is painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern. A photo is at right, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Tubruq (Tobruk), famous from the World War II battles in 1941, is the easternmost major town of the country, about 100 km (65 mi) from the Egyptian border. Located on a hilltop in the center of the peninsula that protects Tubruq's harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS LBY-005; Admiralty E6220; NGA 21452.
Ra's Azzaz
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. 11 m (36 ft) skeletal tower, painted with black and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a prominent cape about 26 km (16 mi) north of Bardiyah. The site appears to be accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6214; NGA 21436.
Bardiyah (Bardia, Burdi)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 98 m (322 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) cylindrical tower, painted with narrow black and white horizontal bands. A photo and a distant photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located atop a steep bluff on the south side of the entrance to Bardiyah, a village about 13 km (8 mi) northwest of the Egyptian border. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6210; NGA 21432.
Tubruq Light
Tubruq Light, Tubruq, October 2002
Panoramio photo copyright Rahmoni; permission requested

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Mediterranean Egypt | West: Tunisia

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Posted July 5, 2005. Checked and revised November 24, 2013. Lighthouses: 27. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.