Burgas Lighthouse

IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year 2023 Nominee

Location: BULGARIA - Burgas.

Lighthouse Operator: Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company (BPI Co.)

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Source: (photos as submitted to accompany nomination form submitted by Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company 2023)

Lighthouse Description and History

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company 2023)

Burgas is the city with the oldest seaport in Bulgaria and the first harbor lighthouse. The Burgas Lighthouse was lit in 1899. The optics were ordered by the French company “Sautter Harlé & C-ie“. People called it the “White lighthouse”. It quickly became a symbol of the port city. The lighthouse at the end of the east breakwater was originally raised on a pole structure at a height of 15.0 m. Its constant white light was visible at 8 miles. After the construction of the cylindrical tower in 1907, a nautophone was installed on the Burgas Lighthouse which was modernized in 1931. In the same year, the lighthouse was electrified. In 1995, the overall appearance of the lighthouse was changed. There is a new concrete tower painted in wide white and red horizontal stripes. The light signal is emitted at a height of 24m and it is visible at a distance of 14.0 nautical miles. The lantern room and the lenses were also changed – the light equipment is ЭM 300, and the nautophone was replaced by a new one of GA type. The nautophone emits sound signal with duration of 30 seconds: sound – 5.0, silence – 3.0, sound – 1.5, silence – 3.0, sound – 1.5, silence – 3.0, sound – 1.5, 11.5 – silence. This is the combination for the letters „Б“ (Cyrilic) and “B” (Latin) in the Morse Code Alphabet. The light emitted today from Burgas Lighthouse is white flashing every 3 sec. It illuminates sector 253° – 153°.

Reason For Nomination

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company 2023)

Intrinsic Heritage Interest of the Lighthouse

2023 marks exactly 120 years since the opening of the first modern seaport in Bulgaria. In a solemn atmosphere and in the presence of Prince Ferdinand I, the Port of Burgas was officially opened on 18 May 1903. Four years prior to this event, in 1899, the Burgas Lighthouse was lit. As in the other large Black Sea port city – Varna, a bas-relief of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria was placed at the base of Burgas Lighthouse. Similarly, in 1949, it was replaced by the bas-relief of Georgi Dimitrov, and since 2003 at the front of the lighthouse there is a metal sculpture depicting the emblem of Port of Burgas.


The Burgas lighthouse is maintained by Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Co. BPI Co. carries out regular technical inspections of the lighthouse. In order to protect its exterior structure from wear and to retain its authenticity into the future rehabilitation and repainting are carried out. One of the recent improvements is the replacement of the entrance door of the lighthouse.

Public Access and Education

The Bulgarian port city of Burgas is increasingly turning its attention towards the sea. Thanks to BPI Co., on the territory of the port there is separate Public Access Area, open for pedestrians, cyclists and cars – a favorite point on the map of Burgas, where you can most clearly feel how the city embraces the sea more and more. The buildings of the Burgas Passenger Terminal, the iconic VTMIS Coastal Centеr, the International Congress Center Burgas and The Planetarium, built by BPI Co., as well as the renovated warehouse “Magazia 1”, form the urban environment on the seafront, beloved by the citizens of Burgas and guests of the city. Located in the Public Access Area of Port of Burgas the lighthouse is freely accessible to visitors.

BPI Co. has always taken care not only for development and modernization of maritime transport, but also for preservation of its history. In 2016, the documentary series of the Bulgarian National Television under the name “Light in Infinity” was filmed with the support of BPI Co. The TV production tells unknown facts from the history of some of the oldest navigation facilities along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

BPI Co. also gathered in a book the fascinating stories of the lighthouses in Bulgaria. The book “LIGHTHOUSES and other means of navigation support along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast (1878-2018)” is a symbolic gift not only to all of us, but to the next generations who want to touch the mysteries of the shining towers. The illuminating lights of the Bulgarian Black Sea lighthouses “blinked on” all of the 240 pages. The bilingual edition presents the most complete and most reliable information related to the navigation support, direction and regulation of the Black Sea coastal navigation, waterways and port areas. The book is a valuable asset for all who have connected their personal and professional destiny with the sea because it is not only a guide to the Bulgarian Black Sea lighthouses but also a contribution to the preservation of Bulgaria’s maritime history.

The book also presents information about the modern lighthouses of the 21st century – Coastal Centers for Vessel Traffic Management and Information Services in Varna and Burgas. Situated in characteristic and recognizable buildings, both operational centers for vessel traffic management in the Bulgarian waters of the Black Sea, continuously exchange data with each other and aggregate information and navigation systems, based on the latest achievements in science and technique.

The striking lights of the Bulgarian Black Sea lighthouses “flashed” also at the other end of the world. BPI Co. described the exciting story of the Bulgarian light signs and the Burgas lighthouse in particular at the World Lighthouse Heritage Exhibition in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It was held during the 19th IALA Conference 2018 on “Successful voyages, Sustainable planet – a New Era for Marine Aids to Navigation in a Connected World” in the period May 27–June 2, 2018 and presented the historic and cultural significance of headlights from all over the world.

In 2022, The Burgas Lighthouse “had the pleasure of hosting” World Marine Aids to Navigation Day 2022. The international event gathered together marine experts from the UK, Belgium, Spain, France, Iceland, Republic of Korea, etc. in Burgas. The mission of the WAtoN Day is to improve public awareness, regarding the navigation aids.

A fairy tale of the lighthouse

Once upon a time, in the Firefly Kingdom far away, there lived a courageous and curious little firefly with an adventurous spirit and a big heart. His name was Svetulko, the brave firefly. Every night after all the others would go to sleep, Svetulko would fly far in the infinite sky to explore the world. One faithful night a powerful wind came out and lightning struck and lit the dark and gloomy sky. A storm hit the Black sea where Svetulko was wondering around. He tried to fly away but then something unexpected happened. In the distance he saw a small lonely boat. Someone there might need help, Svetulko thought. Without thinking twice, and, at the risk of his own life, he headed towards the boat. The storm ended as abruptly as it begun. Still, on the old lonely boat in the middle of the sea there was a desperate sailor, lost on his way home. Not wasting time, Svetulko flew back to the Kingdom to wake up all his brothers and sisters. Together they headed towards the sea, where the sailor in trouble was losing hope. All the little fireflies joined all their forces and lit the way to the shore with the brightest light. The sailor was safe. Out of gratitude and appreciation the King of the fireflies turned Svetulko into a lighthouse with red and white stripes. The red represented his big brave heart and the white was a symbol of his pure and noble soul. That way he could always light up the way for ships and boats and lead them safely to port. All this happened back in 1899 in the city of Burgas. Now 124 years later the Burgas Lighthouse still spreads the brightest light and directs the ships on their way home.