10 Most Endangered Lighthouses in the World


Kiipsaar (or Kiipsaare), Estonia

The beach where the Kiipsaar lighthouse lies has been so severely eroded by the sea that it often stands in the water.
The beach where the Kiipsaar lighthouse lies has been so severely eroded by the sea that it often stands in the water.

It's tough to rank endangered lighthouses, because you never know when one that's in a precarious position will suddenly topple, as the one on Half Moon Caye in Belize did in the fall of 2010. But even if it's not the most endangered lighthouse in the world, the one built in 1933 at Kiipsaar, Estonia, on the Baltic Sea, is without a doubt the most famous endangered lighthouse on Earth.

The Kiipsaar light is widely known as "the leaning lighthouse." It's a favorite subject for photographers, partly because it's so unusual looking, and partly because everyone who has seen it expects it to fall any day. Not surprisingly, the lighthouse has been inactive for some time.

Erosion caused many of the lighthouse's problems. The beach where the lighthouse stands has been washed away so that the lighthouse often lies in the water. For several years in the early 2000s, it leaned as much as 15 degrees. By 2008, it had straightened considerably. But that correction isn't good news. It is, rather, evidence that the waves have further eaten away sand under the base of the lighthouse. A fall is probably even more likely.

The only hope for this lighthouse is to move it, but there are no plans in the works for such a project.

Keep reading for lots more information.

Related Articles


  • Ambergris Daily. "Tropical Storm Matthew Falls Lighthouse on Half Moon Caye Natural Monument." San Pedro, Belize, Oct. 2, 2010. (Oct. 9, 2010)
  • Clark, Sue. "Lack of Funding Stalls Lighthouse Repair." Lighthouse News.http://lighthouse-news.com/2009/05/31/lack-of-funding-stalls-lighthouse-repair/ (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • Donovan, William P. "Seven Wonders of the World." The World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 17. World Book Inc., Chicago, Ill., 1984.
  • "First Congressional Earmark -- $220,000 -- reaches DNLR." Friends of the Monument. Aug. 22, 2010.http://marianamonument.blogspot.com/2010/08/first-congressional-earmark-award.html (Oct. 9, 2010)
  • "Kiipsaare Light." Lighthouse Depot.http://www.lighthousedepot.com/lite_explorer.asp?action=search_lighthouses&lighthouse_name=K&bhcd2=1286655726 (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • "Lighthouse." The New Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Vol. 7. Micropaedia. Fifteenth edition. 2010.
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  • Lighthousesrus. "Galinhos." The Lighthouses of Brazil.http://www.lighthousesrus.org/theAmericas/Brazil.htm (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • "Moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse." National Park Service.http://www.nps.gov/caha/historyculture.movingthelighthouse.htm (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • "Orfordness Lighthouse." Trinity House.http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/interactive/gallery/orfordness.html (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • Rowlett, Russ. Professor of Education and Director, Center for Mathematics and Science Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Personal interview via telephone. Oct. 5, 2010.
  • Rowlett, Russ. "The Doomsday List."http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/doomsday.html
  • Rowlett, Russ. "The Lighthouse Directory."http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/ (Oct. 1, 2010)
  • Scheina, Robert L. "Lighthouse." The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. Chicago, 2007.


How Lighthouses Work

How Lighthouses Work

Lighthouses were used in the days of sailing before GPS and other technologies made them obsolete. Read more about lighthouses at HowStuffWorks.