Historic Keri lighthouse restoration work nears completion

Keri lighthouse.
Keri lighthouse. Source: ERR

Renovation work on an historic lighthouse on the uninhabited islet of Keri, off the North coast of Estonia, is nearing its end after two years. The lighthouse had fallen into a serious state of disrepair, before the work began.

Erected around 300 years ago on the order of Peter the Great, this historic lighthouse (pictured) on Keri islet is one of the oldest in the Baltic Sea region. 

Keri itself lies around 6km North of Prangli island and is one of the northernmost points of Estonia's territory. It is just over 3ha in size.

Despite this, it had long been neglected and in danger of collapse, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Monday.

"The year was 1988 when the news came in via 'Aktuaalne kaamera' that we also have a lighthouse on Keri in dire need of repair - it is about to collapse. That collapse actually happened in 1990," Peep Rada, head of the Keri Society, said.

There is a rule on the island, whereby one does not interfere with others, including the local wildlife. Birds, island keepers and visitors can thus coexist amicably on a plot of less than three hectares, together with construction workers, until work on the lighthouse is complete.

The Keri lighthouse has been guiding those at sea since 1719, while the restoration of the historic lighthouse which began two years ago is nearing its end, at a cost of nearly €1.8 million.

While the islet is uninhabited, guardians are appointed to it to oversee things, often staying ashore for several weeks at a time, though now as noted having to live alongside building workers.

Other improvement projects are in the offing, too.

One, Urmo Männi said one of these was a charity project, to repair a kitchen,

Siiri Männi meanwhile pointed out current facilities already include a mini-cinema and the mandatory sauna, through whose windows the lights of both the Estonian and Finnish coasts are visible, on a clear night.

The Männis have been visiting the islet via their own boat for years, they say.

At all times, passing sea traffic including large cruise ships and smaller vessels, mostly sailing between Tallinn and Helsinki, can be watched, too.

At this time of year, the bird population is not particularly dense, but come spring, serious nesting season begins, Urmo Männi added.

summer. Although the lighthouse is still in the possession of the builders, the island keepers also live with its repairs.

Whereas before the renovation began in 2022, the lighthouse's fate was not certain and one side of the structure had caved in, now, its future is much more secure.

But does it have a practical value in today's world of GPS and mobile communications?

Peep Rada noted that while GPS is useful, in any case physical landmarks and other navigational aids remain important, particularly in smaller boats.

Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Ave Häkli.

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