Hiiumaa lighthouse shares origins with Eiffel Tower

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A reconstructed version of how the Ristna Lighthouse originally looked - the main difference being the lattice wrought ironwork was filled in with concrete around 100 years ago. Source: Indrek Laos

If a Hiiumaa lighthouse bears a resemblance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, that is no coincidence, since it is now found to also have been designed and constructed at Gustave Eiffel's workshop.

The Ristna lighthouse, on the Kõpu peninsula, at the westernmost extremity of Estonia's second-largest island, is now proven to have had its design origins in French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel's (1832-1923) workshop, the organization which preserves the cultural monument says on its website.

A document found in Eiffel's descendants' archives in Paris confirms that the metal structure was made in Eiffel's factory in 1874.

While the original lattice framework was filled in with concrete, which was apparently done to obscure structural damage sustained in World War One, its neo-Gothic decorative elements remain and resemble some of its Parisian distant relatives hallmarks. The photo below shows it in its former glory.

The Ristna Lighthouse on Hiiumaa (Dago being the old Baltic German name for the island) before World War One. Source: Indrek Laos.

"Suspicions about the links between various Estonian metal lighthouses and the famous French engineer lingered for a long time, but now the Ristna lighthouse has been provided with documentary proof of this fact," architect Indrek Laos, who carried out the necessary research, says.

The lighthouse is open to the public, and its website, both in English and, perhaps unsurprisingly, French, is here.

The lighthouse actually predates the tower, which was finished in 1889, by around 15 years, and stands almost exactly one tenth of the height of the 300-meter Parisian landmark.

It did, however, have a practical purpose as a functioning lighthouse. More work is needed on ascertaining how and when the structure was purchased in Paris and relocated to Estonia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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