Lighthouse of the Year

Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Morocco – 2023

Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Morocco
IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year – 2022

All lighthouses have an international dimension, but at Cap Spartel – Morocco’s oldest lighthouse – that dimension is intrinsic to its identity. The lighthouse’s very origins can be traced back to an international incident – the tragic sinking of the Brazilian ship Dona Isabel in 1860 with the loss of 250 lives. Built in an Hispanic-Moorish architectural style in the form of a square minaret, this stunning lighthouse was operational by 1864.

Standing as it does in the north-western point of Morocco and Africa, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean (and with Europe just across the narrow Strait-of-Gibraltar), the new lighthouse would safeguard some of the busiest and most important shipping lanes in the world – shipping routes that were and are key to the globalised world that we now live in. Testimony to that international importance and prestige can be found in the 1865 convention between Morocco and 10 other nations for the operating and maintenance costs of the lighthouse.

Cap Spartel’s modern history retains an international flavour, having an innovative lighthouse twinning agreement with Mamelles Lighthouse in Senegal.

Featuring on stamps and banknotes Cap Spartel lighthouse remains an emblematic icon of the city of Tangier, a source of national pride and a symbol recognized by all Moroccans. An excellent website makes it clear that public accessibility and education have a strong focus here – for all the family. The lighthouse building houses the Museum of Moroccan lighthouses, offering an educational experience on the maritime history of Morocco and promoting the role of navigation aids and their technical evolution over time. Cap Spartel is an exemplary example of what it means to be an IALA Heritage Lighthouse.

Homigot Lighthouse, Republic of Korea – 2022

Homigot Lighthouse, Republic of Korea
IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year – 2022

The strikingly elegant lighthouse of Homigot was constructed in 1908. It is symbolically positioned on the tail of the tiger that Korea’s shape is often compared with – ‘reaching out’ from Asia to Europe. This symbolism find reality through international elements of the lighthouse’s design and history.

The tower’s unusual octagonal curved design and exceptional height gives in an extraordinary elegance. Whereas this curved form is common in round sea-washed towers where it helps against wave loading, here it is innovatively used to secure increased resistance against seismic loads – a design principle that has self-evidently been extremely successful.

Homigot Lighthouse is especially notable for the efforts that have been made in understanding and recording its heritage value. A comprehensive study conducted in 2021 highlighted not only its historical context, functions and symbolic value, commissioned included 3D scans and detailed drawings of all aspects of the building. Such a holistic approach to understanding and recording heritage is admirable.

No heritage lighthouse in Korea can be considered entirely in isolation. Korea’s joined-up approach to national lighthouse heritage and culture includes a Lighthouse Stamp Tour program, and the superb National Lighthouse Museum built next to Homigot Lighthouse – which has been extended this year to become the largest of its kind in the world. Together such initiatives have helped make Homigot Lighthouse into one of the most loved and visited tourist sites in South Korea. Such a clear and successful vision for understating and promoting lighthouse heritage and culture makes Homigot an extraordinary example of an IALA Heritage Lighthouse.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia – 2021

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia
IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year – 2021

Santo Antônio da Barra Lighthouse, Brazil – 2020

Santo Antônio da Barra Lighthouse, Brazil
IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year – 2020

Cordouan Lighthouse, France – 2019

Cordouan Lighthouse, France
IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year – 2019