Créac’h: the most powerful lighthouse in Europe
The Créac’h lighthouse, in Breton Tour-tan ar C’hreac’h (translated as Tour-tan: lighthouse and C’hreac’h: promontory) is a lighthouse in the island of Ouessant, in Brittany, France. It was built in 1863 and is 53 m high.
It is located on the north western tip of the island and guides ships in the dangerous and busy stretch of the Atlantic which becomes, from that point, the English Channel. For this reason it is the most powerful in Europe and one of the most powerful in the world, visible up to a distance of 32 nautical miles (about 61 km). Interestingly, the Creac’h lighthouse has not one, but two lenses, one placed above the other on two different levels at the top of the lighthouse.
Inside is the computer that regulates and controls the activity of the other lighthouses on the island: Nividic, La Jument, Kéreon, Le Stiff (the oldest lighthouse in Brittany that is still working) and Pierres Noires. In addition, also the Île Vierge lighthouse in Finistère is remotely controlled.
Ouessant is an incredible destination to discover the history of lighthouses, and not only because 6 of them are built on and around the island.
Creac’h is also the French lighthouse museum (Musee des Phares et Balises) created in 1988, where unique pieces can be seen, including the very first Fresnel optic, implemented in Cordouan in 1823.
The museum is located in the former powerplant of the Creac´h lighthouse itself, at the base of the building, and It displays the history of maritime beaconing.
The visit starts by the old machinery room, where magnificent optics, models as well as reconstructed lighthouse keeper’s room inform the visitors about the saga of the lighthouse builders, engineers and keepers which made navigation possible all over the world.
It also evokes the many shipwrecks which took place in the vicinity and the epic construction of some monuments like La Jument lighthouse. Several Fresnel lenses and other optical objects are exhibited and several models and audiovisual documents complement the visit.
It is a museum not only for those who are passionate about lighthouses but also for curious people fascinated by maritime history.
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