Lighthouses of Malta

Malta is a small and densely populated island nation located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea about 90 km (55 mi) south of Capo Passero, Sicily. Malta is also the name of the largest island of the group; Għawdex (Gozo), the other major island, lies just to the northwest. The islands have a long and colorful history. They were independent, under the rule of a Catholic military order called the Knights of St. John, from 1530 to 1798, when they were occupied by Napolean. British troops evicted the French in 1800, and Malta became a British colony in 1814. The country resumed its independence in 1964 and joined the European Union in 2004.

The Maltese language is spoken in the islands in addition to English and Italian. Maltese is related to Arabic, but it is written in the Latin alphabet. The Maltese word for a lighthouse is fanal.

Lighthouses in Malta are maintained and operated by Transport Malta, which has absorbed the former Malta Maritime Authority.

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 - Malta and Adjacent Islands
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses in Malta
Photos available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Malta
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Europäische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Ricasoli and St. Elmo Lights
Ricasoli (foreground) and St. Elmo Lights, Valletta, September 2013
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Tom Gates

Għawdex (Gozo) Lighthouses
* Ġurdan (Giordan, Gordan, Gurdan)
1853 (station established around 1650). Active; focal plane 180 m (591 ft); white flash every 7.5 s. 22 m (72 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story stone keeper's house. Tower and lantern painted white; the house is unpainted. A photo is at right, Trabas has a good photo, Wikimedia has several photos, Aldo Cauchi Savona has a photo, Lightphotos.net has a closeup and a distant view, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is the landfall light for ships arriving in Malta from the west. We do not have any account of the early history of the station. Automated in 1994, the lighthouse is now the principal Global Atmospheric Watch station for the Central Mediterranean. Located on Ġurdan Hill in Għasri, near the northwestern tip of Għawdex, 800 m (1/2 mi) from the brink of a sheer cliff that drops directly into the sea. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MLT-003; Admiralty E2050; NGA 10504.
Mġarr North Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 7 m (23 ft); green flash every 5 s. 5 m (17 ft) round strongly conical concrete tower mounted on a round base. Lighthouse painted with green and white horizontal bands. Trabas has a photo by Helmut Seger, Lightphotos.net has a photo of the light being passed by an interisland ferry, the light is near the right edge of Guillermo Dasi's photo of the harbor entrance, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north breakwater of Mġarr, the port at the east end of Għawdex. Site and tower closed, but there's a good view from ferries arriving from Malta. Admiralty E2051.2; NGA 10512.
Mġarr Main Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); red flash every 4 s. 5 m (17 ft) round strongly conical concrete tower mounted on a round base. Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. Trabas has a photo by Helmut Seger, a 2009 closeup photo is available, the light is near the left edge of Guillermo Dasi's photo of the harbor entrance, Lightphotos.net has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south (main) breakwater of Mġarr, the port at the east end of Għawdex. Site and tower closed, but there's a good view from ferries arriving from Malta. Admiralty E2051; NGA 10508.
Gurdan Light
Ġurdan Light, Għasri, October 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Wusel007

Island of Malta Lighthouses
* Portomaso Marina
Date unknown (recent). Active (privately maintained); focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); flashing red light. 6 m (20 ft) locomotive-style lamp atop the domed roof of a small octagonal 1-story marina control room, mounted on 8 concrete piles. A photo is available, also a second photo, and Google has a satellite view. This light marks the entrance to the marina of an upscale resort development. Located on the Ponta ta'Spinola, on the north side of the island of Malta and the west side of St. Julian's Bay about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) northwest of Sliema. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Portomaso Marina.
* Valletta (Fort St. Elmo)
Date unknown (station established 1851). Active; focal plane 49 m (161 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square steel skeletal tower with gallery, mounted at the highest point of a large stone fortress. Trabas has a closeup, a good panoramic photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Dominating the harbor of Valletta, Malta's capital, Fort St. Elmo dates from the 16th century. Most of the fort is now a museum, and the rest houses Malta's police academy. Located at the tip of the peninsula separating the Grand Harbour from the Marsamxett Harbour in Valletta. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MLT-007; Admiralty E2061.5; NGA 10544.
St. Elmo (Grand Harbour West Breakwater)
1908 (?). Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); quick-flashing green light. 14 m (46 ft) tapered stone tower with lantern and gallery. Tower unpainted, lantern painted green. Tom Gates's photo at the top of this page shows this lighthouse in the distance, Martin Kubik has a photo, another good photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. The two breakwater lighthouses stood without their lanterns for decades, but in 2012 replicas of the original lanterns were installed. Located at the end of the breakwater on the west side of the entrance to the Grand Harbour of Valletta. Accessible only by boat (the breakwater is detached from shore). There are good views from ferries arriving in Valletta. Site and tower closed. ARLHS MLT-002; Admiralty E2062; NGA 10548.
* Ricasoli (Grand Harbour East Breakwater)
1908. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); quick-flashing red light. 9 m (30 ft) tapered stone tower with lantern and gallery. Tower unpainted, lantern painted red. A photo by Tom Gates is at the top of this page, Trabas has an excellent closeup by Helmut Seger, Aaron Attard also has a closeup, Antony Milanos has a photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view showing the original lantern, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater on the east side of the entrance to the Grand Harbour of Valletta, adjacent to Fort Ricasoli. Accessible by walking the pier, and there are good views from ferries arriving in Valletta. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MLT-004; Admiralty E2064; NGA 10552.
* Delimara Point (1)
1855. Inactive since about 1990. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) octagonal stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story stone keeper's house. Lighthouse painted black with a white horizontal band. The house is unpainted. A photo is at right, Paul Tickle has a 2011 photo, Silvan Mugliett has a 2008 closeup, and another good photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The Delimara Point Light served as the landfall light for ships arriving in Malta from the east. The lighthouse also marks the north side of the entrance to the harbor of Marsaxlokk. The lighthouse deteriorated badly after being deactivated. In March 2006, the Malta Maritime Authority donated the inactive lighthouse to the National Trust of Malta (Din l-Art Ħelwa), and in 2007-08 the Trust completed a restoration of the building. The lantern and Fresnel lens are being restored in a second phase of the project, which was underway in late 2011 and was still in progress in 2013. (Admiralty notices to mariners in 2013 described the light as being back in the tower, but I am unable to confirm this.) Located at the southeastern tip of Malta, about 3 km (2 mi) southeast of Marsaxlokk. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: National Trust of Malta (Din l-Art Ħelwa). ARLHS MLT-001.
* Delimara Point (2)
About 1990. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); two white flashes every 12 s. 2-story masonry building topped by communications gear. Trabas has a good closeup photo, and the light can be seen at the right in H.H. Schueller's 2005 photo. Located a short distance north of the historic lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty E2070; NGA 10564.
Delimara Point Light
Delimara Point Light, Marsaxlokk, 2008
Din l-Art Ħelwa photo

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: North: Eastern Sicily

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Posted July 26, 2006. Checked and revised February 2, 2014. Lighthouses: 9. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.