Calais Lighthouse
Current Version Built:
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In 1818 Calais adapted it's watchtower known as Tour du Guet to serve as a lighthouse, with the addition of a lantern at its summit. This tower gave good service, but was located some distance from the shore. King Louis-Philippe's plans for upgrading French ports resulted in the construction of the present lighthouse in 1848. At 50 meters in height it is the tallest structure in Calais, and is one of the port town's most recognisable landmarks.

During the Siege of Calais the Luftwaffe's precision dive bombing and german artillery levelled the town, however the lighthouse and it's predecessor remarkably survived almost intact, with only the lantern room of the old lighthouse being destroyed, and the lantern room of this lighthouse presumably being damaged by bomb blasts, as it was replaced some time after the war with a cast iron lantern room built by Barbier, Benard, et Turenne of Paris.

Inside the tower is a clockwise spiral staircase consisting of 271 steps to the gallery level, although the lantern room is accessed by a further ladder and is off-limits to visitors. The light has a rotating lens that gives 4 quick flashes every 15 seconds. The section of tower just below the lantern contains the watch room, and in contrast with the rest of the tower's exterior is constructed using black bricks. The tower's weather-worn red brickwork below this level was replaced with white glazed bricks in 1992, giving the tower it's distinctive appearance.

Adorning the front of the lighthouse above the entrance about a third of the way up the tower is the symbol of Phares et Balises - the French Lighthouse and Beacon service, who are responsible for the upkeep and running of many french lighthouses.

From the top of the tower you get panoramic views of the Port of Calais and views over to Dover's white cliffs on a clear day. The two much smaller lighthouses on the ends of the piers can also be seen from here, as well as the older watchtower lighthouse, located in the town centre.