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 by various photographers 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 (foreground) and St. Elmo Lights, Valletta, September 2013
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Tom Gates
- Għawdex (Gozo) Lighthouses
- * Ġurdan (Giordan,
- 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;
- 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
Ġurdan Light, Għasri, October 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo
Island of Malta Lighthouses
- * Cirkewwa (1)
- Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) octagonal concrete column atop a round concrete tower mounted on a round stone base. A statue is placed in an alcove above the entrance to the tower. The lighthouse is unpainted. Lighthphotos.net has a good photo, a 2014 photo and a 2013 distant view are available, and Google has a satellite view. The active light (focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 2 s) is on a short mast at the end of the adjoining breakwater; Trabas has Klaus Potschien's photo, and Lightphotos.net has a closeup. Cirkewwa, at the western tip of the island of Malta, is the terminal for ferries to Mġarr, Għawdex (Gozo). Located on the quay at Cirkewwa. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS
MLT-008; Admiralty E2055.5; NGA 10524.
- * Portomaso
- 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
- * #Valletta
(Fort St. Elmo) (1?)
- Date unknown (station established 1851). Apparently demolished, although still listed with focal plane 49
m (161 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. This was an 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,
Lightphotos.net has a distant view, and a good panoramic photo
is available. The Admiralty described the light as "temporarily unreliable" in January 2013, and the tower is missing from Google's satellite
view. More information is needed. 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.
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, Trabas has an excellent closeup by
Helmut Seger, 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
- 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 completed in 2014. (Admiralty notices to mariners in 2013 described the light as being back in the tower, but I am unable to confirm this.) In 2015 two apartments in the keeper's house were opened for vacation rental. 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
- 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, Marsaxlokk, 2008
Din l-Art Ħelwa photo
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Ricasoli (1858-1908?), Valletta. This light is
probably seen in the left distance in an undated historic
by the Jafet Library of the American University of Beirut. ARLHS MLT-005.
Musceit (1859-?), Sliema. ARLHS MLT-006.
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining page: North: Eastern Sicily
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Posted July 26, 2006. Checked and revised January 10, 2015.
Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.